Grace Schmautz, 85
On April 26, 1933, in a tiny town called Armena, Alberta, Canada, Annie and George Soderstrom welcomed their daughter, Grace, into the world. Grace was more than just her name. It was her nature and her existence; it surrounded her wherever she went.
Grace and her younger sister, Sylvia, spent their early childhood together in Camrose, Alberta, with their parents, but when Grace turned 13 it was necessary for her to attend boarding school in a larger town.
A gifted piano player, Grace studied at the Royal Conservatory of Alberta and blessed all who heard her play. She made the old-time gospel style of piano seem simple to the envy of many.
On Jan. 2, 1954, a friend introduced Grace to a young man named Richard Leonard “Len” Schmautz and her life took a turn. In three months, almost to the day, Len proposed. The couple wed on Sept. 17, 1954.
Len attended Bible college, pursuing his life’s calling while Grace worked, giving her energy to support that call. There was no promise of a lavish lifestyle or wealth. For the new couple, the path to greatness was paved with souls, not gold or silver.
In the summer of 1955, Grace received joyous news that she was pregnant with her first child. But on May 20, 1956, Ferron, her first son, was stillborn. Further investigation revealed he had a hereditary birth defect — a hole in his heart. It was soon discovered that Grace had the same defect, and that it was only by the grace of God she survived her first childbirth. She was warned that further childbearing would likely take her life. So, in June of 1958, Grace became the 62nd patient in all of North America to undergo an open-heart surgery. This technology was new and she was given a 50 percent chance of survival. Her anxious husband prayed and paced until his bride was finally in the recovery room with stories of an exemplary surgery.
A mere 16 months after that surgery she gave birth to a healthy son. Soon after, Len stepped into his first full-time position as pastor of a small church called Pentecostal Tabernacle in Alliance, Alberta. The ministry took them to Turner Valley, Camrose, and Whitecourt, Alberta. Finally, with four healthy children (Blair, Fay, Joy and Terry) they immigrated into the United States in 1969, where they pastored churches in Bonners Ferry and Pinehurst, Idaho. Later they moved to Wapato, Wash., and finally returned to Idaho where Len retired after pastoring the seniors at Lifeway Chapel in Post Falls, Idaho.
Grace passed away Oct. 30, 2018, holding the hand of her husband of 64 years, in a room filled with family.
Grace is survived by her husband, Len; her sister, Sylvia Hoefling and her children, Blair (Dawneeta) Schmautz, Fay Svingen, Joy (Gary) Lake and Terry (Shannon) Schmautz; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
As she lay in her final hours, we reminisced on our thoughts of Grace. Some spoke of her humor, others of her kindness. She was patient, looking out for the needs of others over her own, even in the last coherent moments of her life. We spoke of her love of camping, her skill of pitching a softball, her effortless piano playing and her unequaled pie making ability. But the word that everyone agreed on that summed her up best was simply ‘selfless.’
The family would like to thank the Schneidmiller Hospice House for their wonderful care.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, at Lifeway Chapel in Post Falls. Bell Tower Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.