Len Schmautz, 88
On Dec. 22, 1930, in Bruce, Alberta, Canada, a boy was born to Andrew and Julia Schmautz. Richard Leonard “Len” Schmautz was premature and so small that his first bed was a shoebox.
As youths, he and his brother Harvey helped with the farm, sometimes driving the team of horses into town for grain. Their sister Ruth was younger, so the boys generally left her to help their mother. They enjoyed boxing and riding horses — even broncos, as they grew old enough. In the winter they skated and played hockey, aspiring to be as good as their cousin, Bobby, who went on to play for the Chicago Blackhawks.
At a tent meeting in 1948, 17-year-old Len was “born again.” Shortly thereafter, he had a vision in which the Lord called him into ministry. When he was 20, he registered at Prairie Bible Institute. He was raising a pig to sell for tuition money, but his dad sold it. The financial pressure and disappointment were great, but God’s call was greater. To pay for school he took a job as a shipper at McRae Automotive.
In January of 1953, he received crushing news — Ruth had Hodgkin’s disease. Seven months later, at just 14 years old, she passed away.
Len entered Northwest Bible College in Edmonton, Alberta, working full-time in the summers for the City of Edmonton Parks Department.
On Jan. 2, 1954, a friend introduced Len to a beautiful young woman named Grace Soderstrom. In three short months, Len proposed. The couple wed on Sept. 17, 1954.
Len continued in Bible College while Grace worked to support his call. After he graduated in 1956, he worked his way up in the parks department until he was a foreman managing three crews. Financially he and Grace were flourishing, but the call of God kept burning in his soul.
On May 20, 1956, their first son was stillborn due to a heart defect. The devastation deepened when Grace was found to have the same defect. It was only by the grace of God she survived her first childbirth. In June of 1958, she underwent open-heart surgery, a new technology. Len prayed and paced until his bride was finally in the recovery room with stories of an exemplary surgery.
Sixteen months after surgery she had a healthy son. Soon after, Len took his first full-time position as pastor of Pentecostal Tabernacle, in Alliance, Alberta. 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, where they pastored churches in Bonners Ferry and Pinehurst, Idaho. Later they moved to Wapato, Wash., and finally returned to Idaho where Len “retired,” pastoring the seniors at Lifeway Chapel in Post Falls, Idaho.
Grace passed away holding Len’s hand, and three months later he followed her.
Len is survived by their children, Blair (Dawneeta) Schmautz, Fay Svingen, Joy (Gary) Lake and Terry (Shannon) Schmautz; 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
He will be remembered for his love of camping and boating, for his Keenager bulletins and for his green thumb that made his garden and roses flourish. More than that, he will be remembered for his dedication to ministry that drove him to leave behind a life of ease for the harder road; a road paved with souls.
The family would like to thank The Garden at Orchard Ridge and The Schneidmiller Hospice House for their wonderful care.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, at Lifeway Chapel in Post Falls. Bell Tower Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.