Leading by example

Local father taught children to be civic-minded

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Kevin Lageschulte has been involved in a variety of civic causes, participates in community theater, and has been employed at Fisher Controls for over 40 years. Along with wife Janel, he has three grown children who cite his civic-minded nature as inspiration in their lives. Son Kraig Lageschulte, far right, works as a police office on the MPD, while daughter Jill McDonnell, bottom left, works as a physical therapist in Grimes, and daughter Kelli Thurston, is a real estate agent in Marshalltown.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Kevin Lageschulte has been involved in a variety of civic causes, participates in community theater, and has been employed at Fisher Controls for over 40 years. Along with wife Janel, he has three grown children who cite his civic-minded nature as inspiration in their lives. Son Kraig Lageschulte, far right, works as a police office on the MPD, while daughter Jill McDonnell, bottom left, works as a physical therapist in Grimes, and daughter Kelli Thurston, is a real estate agent in Marshalltown.

Kevin Lageschulte is a familiar face around town. Since 1975, he has worked and lived in Marshalltown, been involved in a variety of civic causes, sporting events, community theater and is a 40-year member of the Marshalltown Evening Lions. His three adult children — Kraig Lageschulte, 33, Kelli Thurston, 28 and Jill McDonnell, 27 — all credit their dad as helping to shape their talents, passions and other-oriented personalities.

“Hardworking,” “heroic,” “selfless” and “creative” are just some of the ways his kin has described him.

“What I admire most about him is the way he treats people,” said his wife Janel. “The kids grew up seeing his involvement in the community. He just led by example.”

Kevin grew up on a farm in Waverly. He noted his desire to be civic-minded stems back to childhood when his father’s illness required the family to seek outside help from their neighbors to get farming tasks completed.

“If people hadn’t come in and helped us, it wouldn’t have worked,” Kevin said. “I always tried to instill in the children the importance of being part of your community.”

In 1975, he got a job with Fisher Controls as an engineer, and has been employed by the company ever since. Desiring a creative outlet, in the 1970s, he reached out to the Marshalltown Community Theatre. Since that time, he has appeared in productions and has helped design and construct the sets for various performances. He is also on the board of directors. This setting was where he met Janel, whom he has been married to for 28 years.

“We were appearing in ‘Gaslight’ and we always say, he was playing the hero and I was the damsel in distress,” Janel recalled.

The couple wed and raised Kraig, his son from his first marriage, and soon were the parents of two daughters, Kelli and Jill.

“I remember we used to take the kids to rehearsals, even when they were in baby carriers,” Janel said.

The couple said exposing their offspring to the bright lights of the stage helped them all grow up being at ease with public speaking.

“They grew up being on stage,” Kevin said. “And now all of our children are involved in the public in some way. One of the greatest gifts to give a child is confidence. Jill is a doctor who works as a physical therapist in Grimes, Kelli is a real estate agent in Marshalltown, and Kraig is a police officer at the MPD.”

Every extracurricular activity the Lageschulte children were involved in, Kevin helped raise money for, attend meetings and practices, and encouraged them to persevere, even when met with adversity.

“He’s always been my biggest fan. He came to every single cross-country and track meet of mine for eight years,” McDonnell said.

Possessing an engineer’s mind, Kevin was able to build playhouses for his daughters, and as they grew up, helped construct furniture and do repairs.

“We always say he’s a ‘measure once, cut once, kind of guy,'” McDonnell said.

“When we bought our first house, I asked dad questions, wanting that seasoned resource to tap into,” Thurston said. “I know he gets some pride out of being able to help.”

Kevin has served on the Marshalltown Board of Adjustments, passing the torch to Thurston, who is now a member.

“I was always fascinated by how much he knew in the community, and I feel like I’m filling dad’s shoes a little bit being on the board,” Thurston said.

Raising his children to care about the needs of others was paramount to this father.

“Without a doubt, he influenced me to become a cop. The number one job of the Marshalltown Police Department is to be a community role model, so the example he gave me influenced that decision,” Kraig said.

As children grow, the dynamic with their parents naturally shifts.

“I remember when I was in high school and we were on a vacation. Dad got emotional when he said our ability to come together as a family was going to get harder,” Thurston said. “… And it’s hard seeing your two daughters get married.”

But welcoming two sons-in-law into the family’s equation was a joyous occasion for Kevin.

“As a father, you worry about the men in your daughters’ lives, but we think the world of our two sons-in-law, [Tommy Thurston and Adam McDonnell]. They married people with the same values, and I’d like to think maybe I had a little influence [in what they looked for in a relationship].”

Both Thurston and McDonnell foresee raising any future children with the same mindset as their dad’s.

“He is how I would want to be as a parent,” McDonnell said.

“Tommy and I are thinking about starting a family, and we’re thinking about how we want to raise our kids. It’s nice to have my dad as a reference point. I’m personally excited to see my dad be a grandfather,” Thurston said.

Kraig, who is engaged to Meredith Goldman, said his father has influenced his parenting style in helping to raise Goldman’s children, Myles and Kennedy.

“What he does is not for any kind of recognition. That has played into the choices I have made in my life, and how I’m parenting. He’s been a hero. How much he gives back is incredible to me,” Kraig said.

Kevin is humbled by the praise he receives as father.

“One of the greatest joys about being a father is being able to be proud of the adults your children have become, and seeing others recognize that too,” he said. “I still enjoy when any of the kids call and say ‘I need a little advice.'”

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com