2009 Donaghey Award

The college community celebrated the contributions of Mr. Mike Schmitt at a recent award ceremony

Rev. John Donaghey, SVD

On Sunday, September 27, 2009, Mike Schmitt was honored at Divine Word College as this year’s recipient of the

 Donaghey Award for Outstanding Service. A special ceremony was held during the 10:00 a.m. Mass and a celebration brunch followed. The Donaghey Award is given to one or more nominated supporters of the college in honor of Fr. John Donaghey, SVD, whose dedication and support of the college spanned over 30 years. Fr. John’s many roles as teacher, dean, chairman of the board of trustees and president of the college were met with enthusiasm, energy and tireless support of the SVD mission.

Fr. Mike Hutchins, SVD and DWC President, says, “With this year’s Donaghey Award, Divine Word College is saying “thank you” to a good friend, a member of our extended family. Mike Schmitt has helped us so often, stopping in after a busy day’s work or on a weekend, to set up a sound system for a special event or to install new electronic equipment. Generous, unassuming, and with his ever ready smile, Mike is just a fine person, well deserving of our appreciation represented in the Donaghey Award.”

                The ties of faith, family and friends have shaped Mike Schmitt’s life. His steadfast service to the college has continued over the past 15 years, embodying the philosophy of good deeds performed quietly with no expectation of reward. “I feel it’s a privilege to be able to help out at Divine Word College,” Mike says. “It’s like being part of a family. I love my work and I get more out of my service to the college than DWC does.”

One of seven children, Mike was born and raised on the family’s century farm in Epworth. He attended the one-room Millville School and St. Patrick’s grade school. After he graduated from Western Dubuque high school, Mike enlisted in the Navy in September of 1965, where he learned the trade that would evolve into his career. “I was sent to Electronics Technician A School and specialized in the communications end of the electronics field. I worked in a high-security nuclear test facility and the Naval Undersea Research and Warfare Development Center.” Mike made many friends during his Navy years. “Those friendships have lasted a lifetime and we still keep in touch,” he says.

In 1969, after his discharge from the Navy, Mike joined Team Electronics in Dubuque, working there for over 15 years until the business closed and he took over the company. Eventually he moved the electronics shop to his farm, where he continues to service electronic purchases in addition to his many farm duties.

Mike began coming to Mass at Divine Word College years ago. “The Mass schedule worked well with my farm chores,” he says, “and I liked the warm, welcoming atmosphere and beauty of the chapel. I’m old-fashioned, too. I enjoy the reverence and respect still found at DWC.”

Over the years, Mike has become part of the DWC community and made many friends at the college. “It began with two-way radio sales and service,” he remembers. “That started a slow and steady progression of helping out – with the microphone and bell tower system and sound back-up for gymnasium events.” This past academic year, Mike installed a new amp system in the dining room. Refusing pay for his labor and time, he says, “It’s my donation to the education of the students. I’m happy to do this for the college.” He also attended all the recent college and cultural events on his own time to ensure that the microphone systems worked well. After one of his frequent trips to help out, he received a thank you card from DWC PR Director, Sandy Wilgenbusch. “She thanked me for being a member of the team,” he recalls. “And that made me feel good.”

Mike believes that “everyone is born with a destiny and responsibility to fulfill.” Divine Word College is fortunate to be part of Mike’s destiny.