Funeral Mass for Willard R. Schnell, 90, of Dickinson, ND, will be 9:30 a.m. Friday June 14, 2019 at Queen of Peace Catholic Church, Dickinson, with Msgr. Thomas Richter Celebrating. Burial will follow in the family plot at St. Patrick’s Cemetery.
Visitation for Willard will take place from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 13, 2019, at Stevenson Funeral Home, Dickinson.
Willard passed away Monday, April 1, 2019 at St. Benedict’s Health Center, Dickinson.
, cattleman, horseman, cowboy, auctioneer, husband, father, and friend, was born in Dickinson, ND on June 11, 1928, to Ray and Clara (Kittleson) Schnell. He was the seventh child of thirteen, and always said that because he was the middle child, all of his older siblings were his bosses, and his younger siblings were his parents’ pets. He attended St. Patrick’s grade school, Dickinson High School, Dickinson State College, served in the ND National Guard, and lived his life as a member of the Catholic Church.
He was raised on a diversified farming and ranching operation near Dickinson, and also worked in many areas of Schnell family livestock auction markets.
In 1949, Willard married Swana Enderud of Watford City, ND, and to that marriage, seven children were born. Following the tragic passing of Swana in 1991 due to ALS, he married Linda Knapp, formerly of Dickinson, who was by his side to his last breath.
Willard learned the auctioneer trade at the age of 18, taught by his father, Ray, and brothers Howard and Robert, and continued his chant for almost seventy years. Over that time, he had a hand in selling over four million head of cattle, tens of thousands of horses, thousands of acres of land, and numerous other auctions including many for charitable causes.
In the Livestock Auction market industry, Willard was part of a family operation that operated facilities in Dickinson, ND, Lemmon, SD, and Miles City, MT, all at the same time. Then, starting in 1977, he and partners Larry Schnell, Armon Wolff, Delmar Erickson, and James Erickson, operated markets in Dickinson, Bowman and Beulah, ND.
When not working behind the microphone, he was heavily involved in rodeo, both as a contestant in four events, as well as a promoter and manager of a number of several high quality rodeos and cowboy lifestyle events, including the Bronc Riding Match of Champions, the Minot Indoor Rodeo, Miles City Bucking Horse Sale, and the Dickinson Teddy Roosevelt Rodeo, to name a few.
Following a Schnell family tradition, Willard also contributed his time and talent to many industry organizations including US Meat Export Federation; ND Beef Commission; National Cattleman’s Association; American Quarter Horse Association; ND Cutting Horse Association; Natl. Cowboy Hall of Fame; and ND Cowboy Hall of Fame.
He also served as president of ND Auction Markets Association and Montana Auctioneers Association.
Awards that Willard received over the years include: ND Stockmens Association Honorary Member; ND Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame; Northern Plains Achievement Award; ND Cowboy Hall of Fame Legacy Award; and Roughrider Days Rancher of the Year, along with his brother Raymond.
Willard loved western North Dakota and Eastern Montana, and the people. He especially enjoyed visiting ranchers, running pasture cattle with his friends on the reservation, spraying leafy spurge, and visiting his land on Killdeer Mountain.
Almost to his very last day on this earth, if you would have asked him how he was doing, he would tell you: “If I was doing any better, I’d have a runaway!” We believe he’s having a well-deserved runaway right now.
Willard is survived by his wife, Linda, and her daughter, Julie (Chris) Elliiott, Fort Collins, CO.; daughters, Judy (Bud) Tibbetts Pauley, Miles City, MT; Sidney (Gae) Culver, Dickinson; Sonya (Michael) Metzger, Peoria, AZ; and Susan (Rich) Dafnis, Peoria, AZ; and sons, Larry (Judi) Schnell, Dickinson; John Schnell, Pasadena, MD; and Collin (Michelle) Schnell, Pasadena, MD.
Grandchildren, Tara (Kevin Derr) Tibbetts; Jason (Lorine) Tibbetts; Chris (Galit) Culver; Sonie (Matt) Albright; Katie Culver; Quinn Culver; Natalie (Tyson) Bolinske; Mason Culver; Evan (Marina) Culver; Shane Metzger; Melanie (Jonathan) Knopke; Jay (Emma) Schnell; Dee (Charlie) Lothert; Jordan Dafnis; Samantha Elliott; Chase Elliott; and 20 great-grandchildren.
Siblings, Robert Schnell, Rapid City, SD; Shirlene Winn, Georgetown, TX; Wayne (Maureen) Schnell, Santa Rosa Beach, FL; Gordon (Sandee) Schnell, Dickinson; and sisters-in-law, Geneva (Raymond) Schnell, Bismarck, ND, and Carla (Jerry) Schnell, San Diego, CA.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ray & Clara Schnell; wife, Swana; sisters, Lucille (Dick) Law; Viola (Mike) Boehm; Oral (Walt) Shjeflo; and Luella and Laverne, who died in childhood; and brothers, Howard, Jerry, and Raymond.
Burial Date: June 14, 2019
Funeral Home Dickinson, ND
Funeral Mass: 9:30 a.m., Friday June 14, 2019, Queen of Peace Catholic Church, Dickinson
Visitation: 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 13, 2019, Stevenson Funeral Home, Dickinson