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Federal Retiree’s Legacy Passed on with Family Scholarship

When Kermit Irwin started sweeping floors at Federal in 1950, nobody would have expected the legacy he’d leave for everyone he met – and some who never met him at all.

Irwin worked his way up, becoming very active in the .22 plant. He swept floors, worked on crimpers, swagers, trimmers, draws and anything else he could get his hands on. He became a machinist in the experimental shop and eventually supervised the team in his last 18 years with Federal. He retired in 1982 after 32 years with the company.

group photo by Federal building
Left to Right: Pat Swanson (Kermit’s daughter), Don Irwin (Kermit’s son), Evan Schmidt (scholarship recipient),
Roger Schmidt (Evan’s dad and Federal employee), Randy Olson (Team Lead), Allison Westergard (Evan’s Manager)



Fast forward to 2021, when Diana Bristlin, Human Resources, was contacted by two individuals from Kermit’s family, Pat Swanson and Don Irwin.

Kermit had passed away on January 6, 2021 and his son and daughter wanted to gift a $1,000 scholarship in the retiree’s name to a current employee and student with an end goal of working as a machinist.

“Everybody has to work, you might as well enjoy it.” -Kermit Irwin

newspaper clipping
A 1970 article from Federal’s internal newsletter.

“Federal was a huge part of his life, and he talked about the people and how much he enjoyed working there,” Pat explained. “He oversaw quite a few people as supervisor of the experimental department and he would tell them all, ‘Everybody has to work, you might as well enjoy it.’ We thought a donation in his name was appropriate.”

Kermit’s contagious joy extended to every person he met, and now on to those he never even had a chance to meet.

Evan Schmidt, a current Machine Shop Apprentice, was chosen as the recipient of this one-time scholarship. He is attending school at Anoka Tech to become a Machinist and has plans to graduate in the spring of 2022. He was one of the first to join Federal’s apprentice program when it opened in late 2020. Prior to the apprenticeship,

scholarship certificate
Evan Schmidt was awarded a $1,000 scholarship as he pursues his machinist career.

Evan worked as an assembler in the pistol plant. He has been working in the machine shop since the end of August 2020.

Dig a little deeper and you’ll learn he is following in his father’s footsteps. His dad, Roger Schmidt, has worked as a Machinist at Federal for 32 years.

“He seems to like it,” Evan said, gesturing toward his dad. “It is good work, it’s nice to work with your hands.”