DAVE SCHAPPERT - living a full and accomplished life in small town, while helping others to have a better quality of life, as well!
Dave Schappert was born on July 12, 1933 North East of Langenburg on a farm to expats from Austria. "I had a happy childhood but quite different from what children experience today” – his story begins. "I was taught very strong work ethics and how to be self sufficient. Dad taught me how to hunt and generate income. When I was 9 years old, I had accumulated enough money to buy a 22-calibre rifle from the T Eaton Company, which helped me with my hunting (no gun control). At age 5-6 my father would take me with him to a ¼ section of land 3 miles away from home, where he stacked hay. In the winter, I would go with him with a hay-rack and sleigh with a team of horses to haul the hay home. Sometimes it was very cold, and I would get cold. My father would tell me to get off the rack and run behind until I warmed up. This was a lesson in basic survival” – remembers Dave. Dave attended a one-room country school, where there were about 45 kids of all different ages and just 1 teacher. "It turned out pretty good because you had the chance to listen to what the teacher taught older kids” – laughs Dave.
Dave graduated from Teachers College in Moose Jaw and started to teach kids in a country school but after a couple of years, he decided to turn his career towards financing. He started to work for a finance company in Regina. He was transferred from Regina to Swift Current, Medicine Hat (AB), Brandon (MB), Winnipeg (MB), Fort Francis (ON), North Battleford (SK) and back to Regina. Lastly, he was transferred to Edmonton as the manager of the main Branch in Edmonton, which was also the training Branch for young managers in training. This was all in a period of about 8 years. When he was the branch manager in Edmonton, he was offered and opportunity to go to Vancouver. "By this time, I was married and had 3 little boys. My job would be travelling, which meant I was never home. I was in a dilemma; I didn’t know if I should stay with the finance company or not. In the meantime, my brother Graeme in Langenburg was running a vehicle dealership and was looking for a partner. Also, it was clear that it wouldn’t be good for my wife Joan to stay in Vancouver to raise 3 little boys. So, with a tough decision we decided to come back to Langenburg” - explains Dave. Dave left his successful career and took the chance of being his own boss in a small SK town. And in Langenburg things went quite well...
Dave became involved in lots of things. He was a scout leader, member of the volunteer Fire Department, Sunday school teacher at the United Church and a member of a committee, formed to start a Care Home in Langenburg, which turned out very successful! Along with other things Dave was appointed to the Langenburg Hospital as a Board member and became Chairman. Later he joined the local Health Area Board and not long after, he was offered and selected to be on the Provincial Health Care Association in Regina.
"The same time my brother decided that he wanted to do something else, so my wife and I bought Langenburg Motors” – these were busy years remembers Dave. In Regina he was asked to be the President of the Saskatchewan Health Care Association and after a 2-year term of being the President, Dave was asked to join the National Board of Canadian Hospital Association (Ottawa), where after a couple years, he was asked to chair the Long term care committee of CHA. This was a committee to try to coordinate all health care services (acute care, long term care, home care etc.). At the time each service operated as a separate entity and people were falling between the racks. The term they used was a continum of care. "This was a very interesting committee as it had members from every province and territory in Canada. I was honored to serve as chair for 2 years. Our meetings took place across the country. We met in Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. This involved a lot of travel by air and a lot of time away from home and of course all this time I was running Langenburg Motors. I was the only person from Saskatchewan on the CHA board, but Saskatchewan was regarded as the leading province in getting care coordinated. On leaving the CHA board in 1989 along with several others from across the country, we were honored with a special dinner In the West Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. I was very honored to be asked to address the gathering of several hundred and received a standing ovation”- remembers Dave.
Around 1989-90 the Churchbridge Credit Union approached and asked him if he would consider putting his name up for the board. Which he did. He served there for 12 years, 10 years as President. "In 1991 I decided I would like to see some changes in how the town was run”. So, in 1991 Dave Schappert was elected the Mayor of the Town of Langenburg. He served 7 terms in total 21 years - the longest continuous Mayor in Langenburg history! "In that time, I was very fortunate that the economy was strong, and I made friends with the local MLA and I was also a friend of the Premier of Saskatchewan. That helped a lot with what we were able to accomplish. When I became the Mayor, the water in town was some of the worst in SK. We managed to put in a new water system, we built a new town workshop, and created a 10-year plan for the Town of Langenburg. We started the Annual Rate Payers’ meetings, so that people would be informed as to what is going on. During my time as a Mayor, I had hardly anybody who was nasty or ugly towards me. I didn’t have bad calls and very few complaints. We tried to be open and communicate with the public. But at the end of 21 years I saw some children had started school, graduated and finished universities, and I was still the Mayor!” – laughs Dave. So, in 2012 he decided to hand the position over to the next generation.
While he was a Mayor, he became the Coroner in the RCMP district (Langenburg, Esterhazy) and continued in that role until last year. "During my time as Coroner, I shared many sad events with families from all over the area including: MacNutt to Saltcoats to Melville and Esterhazy, down to Broadview and Moosomin and everything in between. Some of the events were peaceful but others were tragic and traumatic. I tried in all cases to be sympathetic and understanding. I have always been involved with our church and served as the moderator of the Presbytery of Assiniboia for 2 years ending in 2018. The Presbytery included all Southern Saskatchewan. In 2009 I received a call from the Saskatchewan Minister of Health to ask me to apply for the Sunrise Health Board of directors. I was approved and served the Board until it was dissolved, the last 6 months as acting chair. I also served on the Board of directors on the Langenburg and District Activity Centre for about 10 years, several of those years as Chairman of the Board” – shares Dave. Just 2 years ago he finally decided to retire from Langenburg Motors. The dealership was taken over by his oldest son, Warren Schappert. His second son, Dean, is an inter-provincially licensed mechanic and has worked at Langenburg Motors for 37 years. "My youngest son, Neal, is doing really well and lives in the USA”.
"For recreation I very much enjoy curling and fishing. For over 30 years my wife and I, along with various family and friends, camped on a remote island in a large lake in MB. There was no service or human habitation. We spent our time in tents and enjoyed nature with no interruptions usually for 10-12 days at a time. We totally enjoyed the solitude and I guess it reconnected me with my childhood days with my father. It was a total change from the luxury hotels I stayed in while travelling with health care”.
"It has been great and a very interesting life! I am very grateful for that. It has really been beneficial to me as well. I enjoyed every minute of it. I am so grateful to my wife and family for their support. Joan showed her full support and encouragement for all my activities in each case. She was an elementary school teacher who taught for many years and couldn’t accompany me on many of my travels. We will celebrate our 62nd wedding anniversary on June 29, 2019.
I wanted to share my story with you, to prove that even in a small town you can achieve good things, fulfill yourself and make the positive changes around you and the world. Work hard, invest in yourself and help others”.