Herald JournalHerald Journal, July 4, 2005

Hometown hero Liz Schwarze is thankful she has time to volunteer

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

Five years of volunteering for the McLeod County Historical Society, many terms on the Lester Prairie School Board, and countless other acts of volunteerism garnered Liz Schwarze of Lester Prairie the distinction of being named KDUZ Radio’s Hometown Hero for June.

“It’s really an honor,” Schwarze said. “But, this museum isn’t run by one person – it’s run by the whole board.”

Schwarze and the board took over operations of the McLeod County Historical Society and Museum about five years ago when it became too expensive to have a full-time staff at the facility.

Schwarze is currently the president of the historical society, but is looking toward hiring a director to handle the day-to-day operations of the museum and society.

She said she is hoping to be able to spend more time at her lake home, as well as do some more traveling.

Schwarze and her husband, Bill, returned home recently from a trip to Japan to visit their son, David, who is stationed there with the United States Air Force.

Along with David, the Schwarzes have four other children – Stacy and David Jacobson of Mendota Heights, Craig Schwarze of Dallas, Texas; Dian Schwarze of Deephaven, and Mark and Angie Schwarze of Plymouth.

Bill and Elizabeth also have two grandchildren – Billy and Katie, who are Stacy and David’s children.

For many years, Schwarze assisted Bill with his veterinary operations in Lester Prairie. The couple moved from town to just south of Lester Prairie in 1974, where they have been ever since.

Schwarze served on the Lester Prairie School Board from 1970 to 1988, serving many of those years as clerk.

“It’s exciting knowing how things are run and how things went,” Schwarze recalled about her time on the board. “There is a lot of meeting new people and learning from each other – you get a good understanding of how things are done.”

In addition to being on the school board, Schwarze has worked with the Red Cross bloodmobiles when they came to town, as well as helping out with various church organizations.

Now that her board era is behind her, Schwarze has a goal in mind to make the museum and historical society the best it can be. She prides the facility on its research capabilities.

“It’s so nice to hear someone walk away and say ‘This is a wonderful place to do research,’” Schwarze said, noting there is always an element of excitement when people tell her they found just what they were looking for.

The museum also sponsors several annual events, including a chili supper the second Monday of November, and a pork chop supper the last Sunday of June. Organizers are also putting the finishing touches on a historic log cabin that is being restored.

“It’s fun working together,” she said. “Everyone chips in and gets things accomplished. My mother did a lot of volunteering – I’m fortunate I have the time to do it.”

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