‘A farmer’s farmer’: Remembering Bruce Schmoll

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) is mourning the passing of former President Bruce Schmoll, a beloved farmer leader who died March 16, 2024, at the age of 70.

“Bruce was such a good leader and friend,” MSGA President Bob Worth said. “He did a lot for Minnesota farmers. It’s a very sad time for Bruce’s family and his friends.”

Schmoll, a lifelong resident of Dodge County, attended Claremont High School and graduated in 1971. He then attended Winona State University and studied industrial arts and coaching, which would serve him well during his years of mentoring younger farmers, including his neighbor Mike Petefish, who replaced Bruce as an MSGA director and later served as president from 2017-2019.

“He first got me involved at the county and state levels and ultimately followed in his footsteps as president,” Petefish said. “I have a lot of memories of Bruce, both advocating and neighborly things, like getting sweet corn and having barbeques with him. He was pretty influential to me.”

Bruce met his future wife, Tarrie, on a blind date. They were married in Winona in September 1979, and enjoyed 44 years of marriage. Together, they raised two sons, Eric and Adam. In 2007, he joined MSGA’s board, forming a close bond with Kurt Krueger, who served as president from 2010-2012 (Schmoll served under him as treasurer). The two farmers remained tight through Bruce’s toughest moments battling cancer. Krueger recalled fondly when Schmoll helped him finish an arduous harvest in 2019.

“He was one of those guys who it was so easy to be his friend,” Krueger said. “I told him, ‘You’re the big brother I never had.'”

Schmoll embodied the role of an agriculture advocate, MSGA Executive Director Joe Smentek said.

“Bruce would talk to anybody anywhere about farming in the U.S. and Minnesota,” Smentek said. “He was passionate about what farmers do and how they do it. We lost a true champion of soy farmers and animal agriculture.”

‘Good as gold’

Schmoll was an avid outdoorsman, especially hunting and fishing. He enjoyed taking his children up to Canada on canoeing trips to the Boundary Waters. Bruce was always happy to share the experience of enjoying the outdoors with others, including fellow advocates from the agriculture world.

The late Bruce Schmoll (right) “was the living definition of an agriculture advocate,” says Executive Director Joe Smentek.

“You couldn’t ask for a nicer guy than Bruce,” said American Soybean Association Director George Goblish, who joined Schmoll on a fishing trip to Canada. “No matter the situation, he always looked at the bright side of it. And he was the only guy I ever knew that dove in the water so he wouldn’t lose a fishing lure. That’s the type of guy he was.”

He played in softball leagues for many years and also enjoyed volleyball. Bruce also made wine, which he shared with friends, raised pheasants at his home over the years and was committed to conservation.

“Too often farmers just focus on getting as much out of the land as they can without giving back,” Schmoll told Soybean Business magazine in 2017. “That’s been our emphasis — giving back. At this point, I think we’ve helped out a little bit.”

Bruce was involved in many organizations and boards during his life. He was active as a farmer leader and served as MSGA’s president during its 50th anniversary in 2012.

“Bruce was a farmer’s farmer,” MSGA Director Brad Hovel said. “He was one of the guys that I really leaned on and asked a lot of questions, and I really enjoyed his passion for animal agriculture.”

Bruce turned his passion for animal agriculture into a chairman’s position with the United States Meat Export Federation, an organization he remained involved with until his death. He also served on the Claremont Zoning board and the Ripley Township Board. Bruce and Tarrie were able to travel to many destinations while he served on these boards, including trips to China and other locations. He was also a lifelong member of Grace Lutheran Church in Dodge Center.

Schmoll could easily banter with anyone and often would find some common ground, with topics such as agriculture and many others. He made lasting connections across agriculture and enjoyed hosting trade team visits on his farm. He was also dependable – as a family member, friend and farmer leader.

“His word was good as gold,” said former MSGA President Paul Freeman. “He wasn’t going to be the center of attention, but he was able to move the room with his manner and how he got things accomplished.”

Most important to Bruce was his family, especially his two granddaughters, Ella and Ava. He was preceded in death by his father, Melvin Schmoll. He is survived by his loving wife of 44 years, Tarrie Schmoll; sons, Eric (Cassie) Schmoll of East Bethel, Minn and Adam (Katie) Schmoll of Long Lake, Minn; granddaughters, Ella and Ava; mother, Myrna Schmoll; siblings, Debra (Doug) Stangl of Estherville, IA, Becky (Dave) Overholser of Eagle Lake, Minn, Brian (Heidi) Schmoll of Dundas, Minn, and honorary brother, David (Heidi) Foy of Corcoran, Minn; as well as many nieces and nephews.

“On behalf of MSGA, we extend our condolences to Tarrie and Bruce’s entire family,” Worth said.

A memorial service will be held Friday, March 22, 2024, at 1:00 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church in Dodge Center. Visitation will be held Thursday, March 21, from 5-7 p.m. 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Czaplewski Family Funeral Homes in Dodge Center, and one hour prior to the service at church on Friday.

“If I could make a Mount Rushmore of friends, Bruce would have a prominent spot,” Krueger said.

Look for a tribute to Schmoll in the May-June issue of Soybean Business magazine.

To share a special memory or condolence please visit www.czaplewskifuneralhomes.com or

Czaplewski Family Funeral Homes
25 South St SW
Dodge Center, Minn. 55927

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