December 16, 2011 in City

‘Visionary’ Schneidmiller dies at 93

Brothers pioneered grass seed industry, Liberty Lake
Josh Johnson Special to The Spokesman-Review

Elmer Schneidmiller, a pioneer in the turf seed industry and a town father of Liberty Lake, died last week. He was 93.

Schneidmiller’s vision and philanthropy are on display throughout the community he first farmed in 1951 and where he moved to stay in 1955.

“He was the true and original visionary for what has evolved into the city of Liberty Lake,” said Bill Main Jr., who worked alongside Schneidmiller for more than two decades, cultivating a community out of land Schneidmiller worked for years as a grass seed farmer.

Along with his brother, Manuel “Mannie” Schneidmiller, Elmer Schneidmiller donated land for parks, schools and hospitals in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

“His contributions to the Liberty Lake community are too many to recount,” Greenstone President and CEO Jim Frank said. “He would never take credit, but (Liberty Lake’s) Pavillion Park simply would not exist today were it not for his commitment of time and the Schneidmiller Land Company donation of the land for the park.”

Schneidmiller was born March 5, 1918, in Calgary, Alberta, to Henry and Anna Marie Schneidmiller. In 1920, the family moved to the Palouse and eventually settled in St. John, where Schneidmiller was the ninth of 12 children.

Elmer Schneidmiller served in the Marine Corps in the World War II battles of Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima. He was in the first wave, commanding amphibious tanks, on Iwo Jima in 1945 and was the only one of seven officers left standing after the first day, said his son, Rod Schneidmiller.

After the war, he and Mannie Schneidmiller made their mark in the Schneidmiller Land Co. They bought land in Post Falls in 1949, the first step in a partnership that saw them farm 3,000 acres between Liberty Lake and Coeur d’Alene.

Elmer and Mannie Schneidmiller, both with agronomy degrees, were agricultural innovators and pioneers of the grass seed industry on the Rathdrum Prairie, with Elmer focused primarily on the Washington side and Mannie the Idaho side. They became the biggest supplier of grass seed to Jacklin Seed Co.

In the early 1970s, Elmer Schneidmiller built Valley View Golf Course (now Trailhead Golf Course) and was instrumental in founding the Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District.

His brother Mannie died in 1997, and his wife, Marian, died in 1998. He is survived by his sons Rod and Ross and six grandchildren.

Excerpted from The Splash, Liberty Lake’s community newspaper.

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