By Robert Lucke
Terry Schend is up for receiving the Cynthia Wedel Award from the Red Cross. He has already won that award on the state and regional level. Now he is waiting to hear from the national. It is an award to recognize distinguished volunteer service.
Schend has been heavily involved with the Red Cross for the last 26 years.
It all started when he had a turning point in his life. He was looking for something meaningful that he could do for the community. He thought of the Red Cross.
"I was out mowing the grass at my house," Schend said. "Some people from Great Falls were in town and called me to come and visit with them. They wanted me to be a chapter chairman. I told them I would take it for a couple of months. I think that job lasted 20 years."
A couple of years later Schend volunteered to be on the Montana Red Cross Blood Services Board. He had just started on that board when the Red Cross got out of blood services until they could make sure they were in compliance with new federal requirements.
"Shortly after that the Red Cross really got reorganized. I think that was around 1990," he said. "Before that every county seat had a Red Cross and some were not even working anymore. The Red Cross had each chapter do an audit and it was then that Hill and Blaine counties formed one single chapter. Fifty-six chapters were reduced to 13."
During those times, Schend had served in a variety of local and state positions with the Red Cross.
Still later Schend helped work on another reorganization plan that whittled the number of local chapters down to one.
"Many months later we all sat down and voted just to have a single chapter in Montana. We needed an executive director and needed a state board," Schend said. "I was put on that state board, possibly because of my history with the Red Cross, and that is where I am today."
He's also a member of the Blood Services Board and a board member in the local Bears Paw district.
Schend is happy with the Red Cross's latest reorganization.
"I believe the Red Cross is stronger because of consolidating our services. Now we can assure those towns in Eastern Montana that even though they might be suffering economically, they will still have strong Red Cross support," he said.
Amazing as it is, the Red Cross is just a small part of Schend's life. Born and raised in Havre, he worked at the railroad for several years until he and two buddies bought an electrical business of their own. Doodling with the initials of their names and some vowels, they named their fledgling company Tempo. That was in 1976. By 2001 Schend had bought his two partners out and was ready for a merger with a Canadian electrical company called Syntech. Schend wanted to go more into oil and gas electrical work. Merging with Syntech is making that possible.
"Now we have more territory, more people, and more opportunities for expansion," he said.
Schend has four children: Debi, Robert, Lorna and Tracy. Tracy is an apprentice electrician, hoping to work into the business.
If all that was not enough, and coming, from a mother who was a Democrat, Schend is treasurer of the Hill County Republican Party. It is a party that has made some inroads in what has traditionally been a Democrat county.
Schend thinks he knows why the Republicans are making gains: "Republican candidates have had to step up to the plate and work harder. They know nothing is going to be handed to them."
That is the mark of Montana individuality, he thinks. If you do the job it does not matter what party you belong to.
There isn't much time for spare time activities in Schend's life. His son-in-law bought him a fishing pole six years ago. It is still in the box.
However, there is a brand new Harley-Davidson motorcycle in his garage these days, and the lure of the open road and summer weekends strongly beckon.