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Home » Campus News Latest » Obituaries » Richard “Dick” P. Schnelz ’52

Dick Schnelz, an amazing husband, father, and grandfather, passed away on May 5, 2016.  During his happy and fulfilling life, he served in the United States Army, journeyed the roads of Europe, experimented with creativity, designed airplanes, and enjoyed numerous adventures that introduced him to new places and people.

Born in Michigan, November 28, 1927, he grew up in the Huntington Woods neighborhood with his parents Fred and Pauline and his brother Fred. At the age of 18, in the wake of WWII, Dick joined the army, and was a part of the occupation force in Germany. It’s no surprise that he quickly befriended the very people considered the enemy a few months prior.

In 1947, he enrolled in Antioch College, Ohio on the G.I. Bill, and majored in civil engineering. After graduating, he visited Europe once more for a two-month long bicycle journey with college friends, and returned home to a job at the BPA in Portland, Oregon. In 1954, he was lured to Seattle by Boeing, and began his exciting career designing airplanes. Dick was a structural designer on every Boeing plane, from the 707 to the 777. He finally retired from Boeing in 1991 after 37 years.

Dick’s love of snow skiing landed him on Stevens Pass, where he rescued a young woman who had let her car battery die. This woman turned out to be Marilyn Grace Staael from Salem, Oregon, and what started as an embarrassing moment for Marilyn grew into a loving relationship and a wedding on October 26th, 1957. Their joint passion for skiing, golfing, and traveling took them all over the world.

His creative and engineering mind was put to work as he designed and built their house on Mercer Island, in which they lived until 1966. Dick and Marilyn had three wonderful boys together: Jeff, Jim, and Jon David. In 1966, the family moved to Vashon Island, where they lived for 33 years. After many fun-filled years living on Vashon Island, Dick and Marilyn moved to a new adventure in Tucson, Arizona, for 10 years, and then returned to the Pacific Northwest.

Dick and Marilyn spent these past few years at the Island House, a retirement community on Mercer Island. “Papa Dickybird,” as his grandchildren called him, passed away peacefully on May 5, 2016.

Although he has left us physically, his family remains with many fond and fun memories of the past. The wisdom and laughter he shared with his children and grandchildren will guide them throughout their lives.

Dick is survived by his wife Marilyn; son Jeff of Vashon Island; son Jim and wife Dori of West Seattle; son Jon David and wife Cori of Bellevue; granddaughters Hannah, Cameron, and Carson; and grandson Charlie.