With this year’s West Seattle Grand Parade less than three weeks away – July 23rd – the Grand Marshals have just been announced – the Schmitz Family:
The West Seattle Grand Parade organization has selected the Schmitz Family as the 2016 Grand Marshals of the parade for their generations of public service and generosity to the West Seattle community.
Dietrich and Vicki Schmitz (WSB photo above) will represent the extended family in the parade, which steps off on July 23rd at 11:00 am on California Ave SW from Lander to Edmunds. Dietrich is a great-grandson of Ferdinand and Emma Schmitz and the son of Alan (deceased) and Vicki Schmitz.
German immigrants Ferdinand Schmitz and Emma Althof married in Seattle just after the Great Fire of 1889. They spent their honeymoon sleeping in a tent, like other Seattleites made homeless by the fire. Ferdinand became a successful businessman. He acquired choice shore and timber properties in West Seattle, which contributed to a large, multi-acre family homestead. He served on the City Council and on the Park Commission Board.
From their homestead, Ferdinand and Emma donated most of the acreage for Schmitz Preserve Park, which lies east of Alki Point. The park contains one of the last stands of old-growth forest in the city and will remain in its natural state forever.
After Ferdinand’s death, Emma donated 17 acres at 4503 Beach Drive SW for the Emma Schmitz Overlook, offering stunning views of the Olympic Mountains.
The four Schmitz children continued their parents’ legacy of public service and generosity to the West Seattle community. After Emma’s death, together the children donated 7 acres adjacent to Schmitz Preserve Park upon which Schmitz Park Elementary School was built.
Individually the children continued their parents’ legacy as well.
Dr. Henry Schmitz was dean of Minnesota’s School of Agriculture, Forestry, Home Economics, and Veterinary Medicine and became the 24th President of the University of Washington. The university’s administration building, Schmitz Hall, was named in his honor. Ferdinand Schmitz Jr. was an executive of PACCAR, President of Smith Berger Industries and a longtime supporter of Lighthouse for the Blind. Emma Schmitz Hartman was a board member of United Way and the Salvation Army and National President of the Camp Fire Girls. Dietrich G. Schmitz, a lifelong West Seattle resident, was president of Washington Mutual Savings Bank for 33 years and sat on the boards of the Boeing Company for 30 years and the Seattle School Board for 33 years, the longest tenure in school-board history. Alan Schmitz, Dietrich’s son, also a lifelong resident of West Seattle, was an Eagle Scout, Scoutmaster, banker, small businessman, 30-year Rotarian, and, later in life, a fitness instructor for senior citizens.
For generations, the Schmitz Family has acted in large and small ways to make the West Seattle community a better place in which to live, an example of public service to which we may all aspire.
You can cheer for the Grand Marshals, and Orville Rummel Trophy recipient Clay Eals, from any spot you choose along the parade route on July 23rd. More previews as parade day gets closer!