Al Schock R.I.P.

Posted: Monday, December 28, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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When I read in the paper this morning that Al Schock had died I nearly fell off the toilet.
Now, Al would have liked that joke although he may have considered it a bit too risqué for inclusion in any of his joke or toastmaster books.
I’m not surprised he made it to age 89. He’s always been too busy to be bothered by things that might kill him; be it a chunk of shrapnel from a Nazi shell in Normandy during World War II , working crazy long hours in order to make his dairy businesses successful, family tragedies or even cancer..although that last one finally did get him but, I’m guessing, not without a tough fight.
I’ll leave it to others to list all of Al Schock’s many accomplishments in business, public service and philanthropy.
What I CAN tell you is if they listed them all in the funeral bulletin it would probably be as thick as one of his books.
So, I’m just offering a few lines here to share a couple personal remembrances.
When I first moved to Sioux Falls in 1969, there were a few people considered to be the real movers and shakers around town; people like Joe Floyd, Max Pasley, Henry Billion, Mort Henkin and Al Schock.
Al stood well over six feet tall and used his height to great advantage when he wanted to get something done. For some reason he took a likin’ to me..saying he thought I seemed to be a pretty straight shooter on television. Truth is, he probably figured me for a push-over..but that’s okay.
He would occasionally stop down to the station and ask to see me.
There he’d be waiting in the lobby wearing his trademark Panama hat and leather jacket.
“Doug,” he’d say, “I’ve written this book about Ozzie and Me.
All the proceeds are going to charity so I think it would be a good idea for you to do a story on it don’t you?”
I’d be there looking up at him intimidated as can be and say something like,“Ah, yeah, sure Al..when’s a good time for you?”
He was a take-charge guy to be sure. When the hog market dropped so low that they weren’t worth the cost of feeding them, Al gave me a call and told me he was going out to a farmer’s place and personally buying up all of his pigs at a price that was many times the current market rate. “The public has to know what a terrible situation these farmers are in and I want you and a cameraman to come out there with me and do a story.”
Again, you don’t say no to Al least I didn’t.  Before long, the hog market did improve. Maybe that little publicity stunt had something to do with it. I sure know it lifted one farmer’s spirits that day
A couple years later, I was doing a story on people in the area who were self-made millionaires.
I wanted them to share the secrets of success. Al was reluctant to do an interview at first but, perhaps out of guilt for all those stare-downs with me, he agreed.
“There aren’t any real secrets to acquiring wealth” he said. “It’s just a matter of setting goals, sticking to them and plain old hard work. Money is just a tool to get things done. Just don’t forget to keep your nose clean, your priorities straight and give back to those who made your success possible.”
He was quite a guy..and quite a character the likes of which we don’t see much of anymore..but should.

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