John A. Schnell
1933 - 2021
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John A. Schnell

John A. Schnell passed peacefully into the warm embrace of our heavenly Father on Feb 12th at his home in Sun City West, AZ while surrounded by his family.

Born January 23, 1933, John was the first of two (2) sons from John E. and Esther Schnell of Seattle, WA. He is preceded in death by his brother Jerry and son Thomas.

In his 88 years, John accomplished many things. He was born in Sioux City, IA and grew up in Seattle, attending St. Joseph's, Seattle Prep. He was honorably discharged from the US Navy Reserve in 1954. He was a member of the Catholic Seminary for six (6) years while attending Gonzaga University where he graduated in 1959 with majors in Economics, Philosophy and the Classics.

After college, he moved to San Francisco. He married in 1959 and raised a family that included four (4) sons. He joined the Bank of America and became the youngest VP in the history of the Trust Division. He continued his studies and became the President of the Trust Class at the Pacific Coast Banking School and then received his Master of Arts from Humboldt State College in 1969. He also received an Advanced Management Degree from Harvard in 1977.

In 1974 John moved his family to Portland, OR to start a career with Consolidated Freightways (Freightliner Corp) where he worked 17 years until his retirement. He was President of Freightliner Credit Corporation and in 1980 he became the President and CEO of Freightliner of Canada and then Treasurer of Freightliner until 1991.

During his life and long retirement, John was able to travel the world in pursuit of his hobbies that included site seeing, skiing, biking, hiking and motorcycle riding. He enjoyed his family and friends and will be deeply missed by those who knew and loved him. John had a passion for life and gave much of his time and wealth to support many charities including the Jesuit Society, St Judes Children's Hospital, St. Mary's Food Bank and the First Baptist Church of Sun City West where he was baptized and became a member in 2016. He enjoyed bible study and networking with his church family but none more than his loving wife Elizabeth (Liz) O'Grady. John and Liz fell in love late in life but their love for each other is inspirational to all who knew them. Liz was devoted to his care and companionship. Often, they would gather with friends and would delight in his humor and genuine positive attitude.

His spiritual beliefs gave him a great sense of calm and charm that we all aspire to. His spirit provided purpose and will during the dark times of his life including the past few months while his body faded. He died in peace and comfort knowing what awaits him and knowing how much he helped others and how much we all loved him.

John is survived by his wife Liz, three (3) sons Daniel, Michael & Gary, his four (4) grandchildren Chelsea, Kevin, Kiana and Ariana and one (1) great-grandson Miles.

A Celebration of Life Ceremony is planned at First Baptist Church, Sun City West, Arizona, 17419 N. Conquistador Dr., Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 11:00am. In Lieu of flowers, donations can be made in John's name to a charity of your choice.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Arizona Republic from Feb. 17 to Mar. 9, 2021.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Please consider a donation, as requested by the family.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Camino Del Sol Funeral Chapel & Cremation Center
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6 entries
March 1, 2021
I shared many enjoyable skiing days with John including European trips in 1978 and 1987. He was always such an upbeat and positive person. It was an honor to have him as a friend. My condolences to the family.
Bill McDonald
February 28, 2021
In November of 1992 at the funeral mass of my grandfather, John E. Schnell, my father gave a eulogy with the following quote: "This is both a sad and a happy occasion. Sad because a loving father and friend has passed away - but happy because he has gone to join our Lord in heaven.
But a moment like this does give us an opportunity to reflect on what is good and important in life.
The good things are family, children and grandchildren, education, good health, a job, friends and on and on and finally joining our loved ones in heaven."
As I reflect on the words he wrote in respect for my grandfather, I can't help but to repeat them for him. Dad was supportive to my brothers and me, engaging and encouraging. Thank you for being a great role model and I am happy you are at peace in heaven.
Michael Schnell
February 22, 2021
The Seattle Prep community sends our heartfelt condolences to John’s family. John was a 1951 graduate of Seattle Preparatory School.

Father Ryan Rallanka S. J. will offer mass in memory of John and we have placed John’s name in The Book of Remembrance on the altar on Our Lady of Montserrat Chapel at Prep.

Many blessings to you Liz and your children. God’s speed.

Kathy Krueger
Seattle Preparatory School
Alumni Office
Kathy Krueger
February 19, 2021
John, what a privilege to know and love you. The love and companionship you and mom had was a beautiful thing to witness. Also getting to know your sons and family felt like we added to ours. I am honored I was able to be with you both as you passed on to your next adventure. We will continue taking care of mom. She misses you so much.. Much love to you. J
Janet Swanson
February 19, 2021
Hi Gary, I didn't know your dad but he seemed like a great person. I'm sure you will miss him greatly but knowing that he is with the Lord is comforting. Hope all is well with you and your family. We were friends from a long time ago, Gary & Cheryl Vieth
Gary/Cheryl Vieth
February 18, 2021
John was a wonderful friend who we shared many ski trips and dinners with lots of laughter and fun. He will be missed by many.
Greg & Marie Jones
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