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Off the Record: Arnie was one of a kind

Shortly after I moved to New Ulm in 1985, I began to see a truck driving around town. “Arnie’s Septic Service,” it said on the side. It also carried the motto, “Nobody Sticks His Nose In My Business.”

I got a kick out of that then, and continued to get a kick out of Arnie Schweiss ever since. Arnie, who kept working right up until recently, died last Friday at the age of 98.

If you didn’t know Arnie, you know where he lived, at least. He had the house on North Broadway with the menagerie of life-size horse sculptures and the antique John Deere tractors in the front yard. It was a display that got him featured on Jason Davis’ “On The Road” report on KSTP. Davis had been in town for some other event, saw Arnie’s house and knew he had to find out more about the owner.

Arnie, you could say, was a character, the kind of character that gives a town its character. He was a unique individual, and made New Ulm a memorable place to anyone who met him.

Arnie was a guy who enjoyed his work. He told more than one reporter he wouldn’t retire “until I get a ride in that big black Cadillac with the door in the back.”

Arnie said he tried retirement once, selling all his equipment in 1988. After a while, however, he bought some new equipment and went back to work.

I always appreciated the humor Arnie had in his ads. One time, he advertised the fact that he had invested in new state of the art equipment that did all the work of pumping out a septic tank. The equipment left him so much time that he offered to play his concertina for you while he was pumping out your tank. And there was a picture of Arnie with his concertina, sitting next to his truck.

Even in his mid-90s, Arnie was investing in newer, better, more efficient equipment. In an ad last year in our Graduation section, Arnie listed his daily schedule:

Arnie Schweiss feels young by keeping active!

He is still working at age 96, but feels like he’s only 24- (In fact he could outwork some 24 year olds!) Here’s how Arnie’s day progresses…

4:00-5:00 a.m. Rise & Shine! He heads to the Quick Mart to shoot the breeze with the guys!

5:00-6:00 a.m. Heads home to play his concertina, he has three!

6:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. He gets out of his coffee uniform & into his work uniform. He begins his work day!

4:30-6:30 p.m. He gets suited up to take his bride, Velma, out to dinner!

6:30-7:30 p.m. Heads back home to play concertina again!

7:30 p.m. Time for bed – Arnie figures he’s good for 100 years unless something goes wrong!

Sounds like a life well lived. Arnie, we will miss you.

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