As a high school junior, Jane Schuldt knew she wanted to go into international business. And she succeeded.
At the time of Schuldt’s death from pancreatic cancer in May, she had become internationally known as a visionary of the travel industry. She specialized in incentive travel, where employers send their workers on vacations as a reward.
Clients always “came away feeling like they knew her,” said her sister, Suzanne Pepin. “She had this sort of small-town girl background that kept her grounded.”
Everyone who spoke of Schuldt said she was outgoing, warm, creative and multifaceted. And although she was focused on international business objectives, she never lost her one-on-one touch with people.
“We were industry sidekicks all these years, because we worked with the same kinds of clients,” recalled Fay Beauchine, who was working for Northwest Airlines when Schuldt began her career in Minneapolis.
At the time, global travel was expanding, and Schuldt was promoting travel to Asia.
“Air and ground go together like a marriage,” Beauchine said. “And we got together as friends who did business together, 30 years ago.”
As a young woman, Schuldt was the only U.S. representative for Pacific World, an international destination management company. In 1991, she founded her own international sales and marketing firm, World Marketing Group.
She was also president of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence, an organization with members in 80 countries.
Her husband, John Fitch, remembers her by her kind personality and unforgettable smile. The pair met in the mail room of their Minneapolis apartment complex and began going for walks by Lake Harriet. They were married in 1984.
“It was 34 years of bliss,” he said. “She was an extremely good example of a fine human being.”
Coworker Carla Schulz said it was a pleasure working with Schuldt at World Marketing Group.
“We knew everything about each other’s lives,” she said. “It was a small business. We worked together for so many years so it wasn’t like a boss-employee relationship. People thought we were sisters or she was my mom.”
Schuldt “made everybody feel comfortable,” Schulz said.
“She was a warm and loving person. Anybody she’d meet, she’d always touch their shoulder or their arms. She was very open and welcoming, with one of those personalities you were drawn to,” she said.
“You will not find a more loyal person than Jane,” Pepin said. “Her loyalty extended not only to her family and friends, but also to her employees and clients. Jane understood that loyalty, respect for others and accountability were values on which she never, never wavered.”
Schuldt was born in Shell Rock, Iowa, on Dec. 16, 1953, to Minor and Margaret Schuldt. She moved to Minneapolis in 1973 and began her career in 1977.
She is survived by her husband; mother Margaret Powell; brother Michael Schuldt; sisters Kathy Beebe, Suzanne Pepin and Robyn Holden; stepchildren Leslie Hite, M’Chele Fitch and Peter Fitch, and step-grandchildren Madeline Klossner, Virginia Fitch-Braun, Harrison Hite, Chloe Hite, Theodore Hite, James Fitch and Alexa Fitch.
Services have been held.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested memorials be sent to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, pancan.org.