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James "Jim" Schemmer


James Schemmer, 84, of Anacortes, Washington, formerly of Rock Valley, Iowa, died Friday, June 17, 2016 at his home in Skyline surrounded by his family who loved him dearly. He will be greatly missed. Memorial service will be held Thursday, August 4, 2016 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Rock Valley at 2 p.m. Burial of cremated remains will follow at Richland Cemetery of Inwood. In lieu of flowers, it was Jim's wish that gifts be made to the Jim and Donna Lou Schemmer Family Education Trust.

James (Jim) Albert Schemmer was the first son born to Clarence H. “Solly” and Betty (Barrows) Schemmer of Rock Valley, Iowa on January 29, 1932. He attended grade and high school there and worked in his father’s construction business. After graduation, Jim entered Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and received a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. He served in the U.S. Army at Fort Chaffe, Arkansas as a Field Artillery Instructor then moved to Omaha, Nebraska to work with the Backlund Engineering and Leo A. Daly firms. After a project assignment at the Union Pacific Albina Rail Yard in Portland, Oregon, Jim became licensed as a Professional Engineer, was transferred to the Daly Seattle office and met his bride-to-be, Twila (Splain). In early 1959, Eugene M. Gollehon, P.E./L.S., established a growing Omaha engineering business and invited his friend Jim to move back to Omaha. By August the Schemmer family was settled in Omaha and the firm of Gollehon & Schemmer was in business. The post-World War II “baby boom” was fueling the massive demand for homes and during the 1960’s the firm designed over 65% of all Omaha, Douglas and Sarpy counties residential subdivisions, over 150 in all, and served as City Engineer for Millard, Ralston and other communities.

Under Jim’s leadership, the firm added architecture, structural, mechanical and electrical engineering to expand its services, led the industry in the use of computers for engineering and business applications and expanded nationally to include offices in Davenport and Des Moines, Iowa; Orlando, Florida; Seattle, Washington which Jim personally started in 1980; Denver, Colorado; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1977, the firm name was changed to The Schemmer Associates Inc. Major projects include I-80/480 Interchange five bridges; University of Nebraska at Omaha Weber Fine Arts Building; Northwest Bank Tower, Davenport, Iowa; the Polynesian Pool for the “imagineers” at Disney World in Florida; Overlake Hospital, Bellevue, Washington and Villa St. Benedict Retirement Center, Lisle, Illinois. The Schemmer firm has received numerous awards, including the National Society of American Military Engineers’ highest honor, the J.W. Morris Sustaining Member of the Year Award in 1990. Jim was committed to professionalism and set the example for the firm to be relentlessly committed to its mission — to enable clients to define and achieve their goals. Today the firm is employee owned and continues its growing national practice. Jim cherished time with his family and they were active in Omaha’s Mary our Queen Catholic Church where he served on the Pastoral Council and School Board. He was a member and officer of the Serra Club. Jim and wife, Twila, took flying lessons together and he went on to become a licensed instrument rated pilot with dual engine qualification. He was a member and officer of the National Society of Professional Engineers and a founding principal of Council of Engineering Companies Nebraska. In the mid-eighties he served on a national Federal facilities performance panel co-authoring the book, “Opening The Doors to Better Buildings.” Jim was Seattle Post President of the Society of American Military Engineers and co-chair of the 1990 National Joint Engineering and Training Conference held there. In Anacortes, Washington, Jim established an engineering and land surveying practice with his son, serving Skagit County and the San Juan Islands. He was active in St. Mary’s Catholic Church where he served on the building committee and other ministries. A devoted spouse and family man, he greatly enjoyed running and sailing with children and grandchildren. After his wife, Twila, passed away in 2007, Jim was reunited with his childhood sweet heart, Donna Lou (Serck), and remained happily married until her death in 2015. Jim was preceded in death by his father and mother, brother Michael, wife Twila (Splain); wife Donna Lou (Serck); and grandson Alexander Pempe. Survivors include his brother William; sons: Michael and Rae Lynn Schemmer, James T. Schemmer, Mark and Shellie Schemmer, and Greg Calsbeek. Daughters: Teresa Robinson and John Pempe, Twila Mary and Angus McDonell, Paula and Jerry Schaefer, Pam Brunetti, Becky and Tom Manley along with many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Memorial Service

2:00 p.m. ,Thursday, August 4, 2016
St. Mary's Catholic Church
1821 14th Street Rock Valley, Iowa, Sioux 51247

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