May 31 – June 8, 2024Admission May 31 – June 8, 2024Admission

Lyle Alvin Schuette

Admiral Windwagon Smith 2024

Lyle hails from a dairy farm in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. Graduating from Lincoln High School in 1976, he joined the United States Marine Corps and worked as an aircraft hydraulic mechanic on CH-46 and CH-53 helicopters. He returned to Manitowoc after serving four years in the Corps, briefly working as a Sheriff’s Deputy for Manitowoc County after graduating from the police academy in Green Bay.

A Marine buddy convinced him to move to Wichita to take a job with Beechcraft. Although he was caught up in layoffs only six months after joining Beechcraft, he fortunately landed a position with the Kansas Air National Guard, working on F-4s, F-16s, and B-1s.

While stationed at McConnell, he tried out for the rowing team that competed annually in the Wichita River Festival’s bathtub boat races. For 11 years, he and his teammates raced their hearts out, eventually setting a world record for the fastest human powered bathtub boat. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, these bathtub boat races brought crowds of over 100,000 people down to the riverbanks of the Arkansas.

Lyle also raced ATVs, winning a state motocross championship in Kansas, and was an avid armwrestler, winning state competitions in Wisconsin, California, and Kansas. He also tried his hand at creating, inventing the Heat Helper, patenting the product and eventually appearing on HGTV, Good Morning America, and an episode of ABC’s Shark Tank.

Much like the rest of us, Lyle’s age caught up with him, leading him to exchange his racing oars for one of the Festival’s Red Shirts, beginning over 30 years of service with the Movers and Shakers—a large, diverse group of volunteers who dedicate themselves to helping bring the activities of the River Festival to life.

Lyle is a member of the Wichita Wagonmasters, a civic-minded group of private citizens that works closely with the Festival. He and his fellow Wagonmasters built the Water Wagon, a pontoon boat made to look like a Conestoga wagon that gives Festival goers free tours up and down the Arkansas.

Lyle, a cancer survivor,  took an early retirement from the Kansas Air National Guard to begin his life’s next adventure, running a privately owned and operated drainage contracting business for 25 years with the help of his beloved wife, Debbie. The couple moved from property to property, digging ponds, selling topsoil and compost, and building unique houses along the way.

The couple have three grown children: a banker, an attorney, and a government defense contractor. Lyle and Debbie recently became grandparents to their first grandchild, and could not be happier. Although his retirement years are upon him, Lyle, a cancer survivor,  believes he still has plenty to give back to the community that his family has proudly called home these past 40 years.

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