“My first memories of Washington State were going to the football games, which always included a visit to Butch’s den to see the live cougar,” remembered Gary Schneidmiller, a 1973 School of Economic Sciences alum.
“Cougar Pride,” the four-ton bronze mountain lion that adorns the entrance to WSU’s Martin Stadium, sits exactly on the spot where Butch’s den housed those original real-life felines in years past. If you’ve ever posed for a photo in front of this huge, regal cat, you have Gary to thank for it.
Honoring family, tradition
After earning a business degree from WSU in 1971 and a master’s degree in agricultural economics before entering real estate, Gary stayed involved with his fraternity and the university. When he was handed the plans for the remodel of Martin Stadium, an idea struck him.
“I noticed a blank spot labeled ‘art piece,’” he said. “The moment I saw it, I realized this could be a way to honor my parents. ‘Cougar Pride’ was the perfect representation of a WSU tradition, in the perfect place.”
Created by two Spokane artists, Mike and Chester Fields, “Cougar Pride” honors Schneidmiller’s parents, the late Manuel “Mannie” and Gladys Schneidmiller. Both were dedicated Cougs.
Back to the land
Gary’s parents both grew up in large homesteader families who valued hard work and education.
Mannie graduated with a WSU agronomy degree in 1941, then promptly went to Quantico, Virginia, to become an officer in the US Marines. During World War II, he rose to Lt. Colonel, commanding landing vessels at Tarawa, Tinian, Saipan, and Okinawa—some of the bloodiest battles of World War II. After the war, Mannie returned to Washington and built a large grass seed business in the Spokane Valley area with his brother Elmer, also a Coug. It’s still in the family today.
Gary’s mother, Gladys, received a scholarship to Washington State, but family finances led her to attend a Spokane business school, where she could work her way through. Education was always her passion, and Gladys was an enthusiastic volunteer for local school boards. Mannie, too, sat for nearly 30 years on water district, highway district, and professional associations.
A lasting legacy
Mannie and Gladys were both benefactors of WSU, giving generously to support the university and many other organizations. Gladys and Mannie’s most lasting legacy is a scholarship fund that has supported nearly 20 WSU students through college.
“I want the students who get this to stretch a little bit,” Gladys told Gary, “but still have it easier than it was for me and your dad.”
Not a single recipient has failed to graduate.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s all a reality,” wrote current WSU recipient Ethan Payton. “I hope I make your family proud as I take this next step.”
“You didn’t know my mom well,” Gary replied. “But she would have been—she is—so excited for you.” ♥
Heart ofa Coug
For many Cougs, the bond with CAHNRS is part of a family tradition that spans generations.
Meet families whose Cougar heart draws loved ones together, honors past pioneers, and inspires a new class of Cougs.