Editor's note: Each week reporter Matthew Guerry shares the life stories of residents of Minnesota or the Dakotas who have died recently. Maybe you don't know them, but their stories are worth knowing. If you have a suggestion for someone to be featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-321-4314.
Leo Loosbrock didn’t have many opportunities to play organized sports in his youth, but such was life for a farm kid.
But as a father, Loosbrock and his wife, Mary Schmitz, made every effort to attend their daughters’ games, even the ones that took them far from their home in Byron, Minn.
"Dad never missed a game," said Ashley Held, his youngest daughter.
Loosbrock’s dedicated spectatorship was emblematic of what family members described as his caring and attentive approach to parenting and teaching, a field of work he retired from in 2000. He had spent the 30 years prior teaching elementary school for the Rochester Public School District, where he stayed on as a substitute for another 15 years.
Though Loosbrock’s children attended school in another district, he took his sensibilities as an educator home with him. Held, 34, of Stevens Point, Wis., recalled him correcting her and her sisters on their grammar and speech, and said enjoyed reading to them and, later, to his grandkids.
"He was always being a teacher to his children and his grandchildren," she said.
Leo J. Loosbrock died of complications from a neurological illness on Feb. 19, 2021. He was 77.
The youngest of Arther and Emma Loosbrock’s eight children, he was born in Adrian, Minn., on March 26, 1943. He grew up on a farm in St. Killian, Minn. and would later attend Worthington Junior College.
A graduate of Mankato State University, he earned a degree in elementary education, and later a master’s in guidance counseling from Western State College in Colorado. His teaching career took him first to St. James, Minn., and later to Germany, where he taught for the U.S. Army through a Department of Defense program in which his brother had previously taken part.
Following his time in the service, Loosbrock returned to Minnesota in 1970 and settled in Rochester, where he met his wife and would teach for several decades. Schmitz, 72, and Loosbrock got to know each other through a sporting club that met regularly for ski trips and other outdoor activities.
The retired nurse recalled thinking of him as a somewhat shy but “nice-looking young man” who amazed her the more he came out of his shell. The two were married 42 years and, in their retirement, saw places as far-flung from Byron as Alaska, Hawaii, Europe, Panama, and the Caribbean.
- To pay for college, Jack Morris became a roadie in the '50s for the famous 'Hormel Girls' Spam troupe
- Take-charge teacher Eleanor Kraker was a driving force in northern Minnesota education
- With her trademark hat and red hair, Carol 'Rusty' Morgan shared her love of art with others
As an educator and a father, Loosbrock pushed his students and children to strive for their best. Young children, whom he taught for his entire career, were for him easier and more fun to work with, family said.
When he left the fourth grade to teach first, daughter Andrea Gosch, 37, of St. Charles, Minn. said, "he told my mom there was more hugs in first grade."
Since his death, daughter Jane Cornell, of West St. Paul, said several of his former students have reached out to say that he inspired them to pursue teaching as a career.
"He was probably a big reason why I became a teacher," Cornell, 40, said.
"Teachers have a huge impact over students. That’s why I love being a teacher," she said. "I think that’s one of the reasons my dad was a great teacher."
Loosbrock is survived by a brother, sister and by his wife, daughters and nine grandchildren. He was preceded in death by two sisters, three brothers and by his parents.