His Early Years
Don Carl Schneider was born in September 1942, in Merrill, Wisconsin, to Virgil and Myrtle (Zastrow) Schneider. He had one sister, Marilyn, who was four years older. Virgil, who had been baptized as an Evangelical Lutheran (Ancestry, 2019), had become a heavy drinker. One Friday he met the head elder while he was building a furnace for the local Adventist church. Virgil was impressed that he was asked to not work on the Sabbath, and all the congregants went to a cold church the next day. Virgil later bid on a furnace job for the head elder and learned more about the elder’s faith and lifestyle. The elder conducted Bible studies at the Schneider home for a year. Then Virgil started to visit the Adventist church. Eventually the whole family – Virgil, Myrtle, Marilyn, and Don – started attending the church (Maran, 2019). The entire family was baptized. Within a few months Don was enrolled in the Merrill church school where his teacher helped him grow in Jesus (Schneider, 1995). There was a time in Don’s life that his father, Virgil, was out of work for months because of an accident. The church elder, Glenn Lemon, of the Buchanan church in Michigan, knowing that Christmas presents at the Schneider house would be in short supply that year, gave Don a yellow jackknife for Christmas. Don later said, “Although I’ve received many other gifts since, few have been as important to me as that knife. That elder…has remained special to me all of these years” (Schneider, 1997).
His School Years
When Don was a senior attending Wisconsin Academy he had lost sight of God (Schneider, 1995). Another student accused him of being a hypocrite. Don thought about that, then one Friday night he knelt by his bed and recommitted his life to Jesus. He also decided he wanted to become a pastor (Maran, 2019). At the age of seventeen, Don conducted an evangelistic series at the church in Helena, Arkansas, resulting in several baptisms (Review, 1960).
Don attended Southwestern Junior College, where he met Martha Ann “Marti” Connell. Don completed his bachelor of arts degree at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, in June 1964 (Bulletin, 1984). Don was hired by the Arkansas-Louisiana conference on September 1, 1964, and sent to Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, for one year (Minutes, 1964). Don and Marti both graduated, then in 1965 Don was asked to be the pastor of the Shreveport district. In 1966 he was asked to be the pastor of the Northern District, which included the Harrison, Berryville, Mountain Home, and Mammoth Spring churches (Minutes, 1965; cf. Minutes, 1966). Don was ordained at camp meeting on June 15, 1968, assumed leadership of the Fort Smith district and became a member of the conference executive committee (Minutes, 1968).
Years of Ministry
The Schneiders were called to pastor in the Minnesota Conference in 1969 (Maran, 2019). In 1970, Elder Schneider was called to the Oklahoma conference as youth, educational, lay activities, and communications director (Bulletin, 1984). From then until 1977, Elder Schneider also worked in the Oregon Conference and served as the youth director of the Central Union Conference. In 1977 he became the Wyoming Conference president, in 1978 the New Jersey Conference president and in 1982 the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference president. After four years in our conference, Elder Schneider went on to become the Rocky Mountain Conference president in 1985, and the Northern California Conference president in 1989. In 1994 Elder Schneider became the president of the Lake Union Conference where he served until 2000. Don completed his master’s degree in systematic theology and Christian philosophy at the Theological Seminary (Maran, 2019). As a member of the Anglo Evangelism Committee, he helped to inaugurate the first in a series of evangelistic meetings to be transmitted by satellite across North America and then around the world (Dower, 2000). Elder Schneider was elected as the North American Division president at the General Conference session in Toronto, Canada, in 2000 (Maran, 2019). As soon as Don realized that his name would be put forward as the next NAD president he bowed his head and rededicated his life to the Lord, knowing only God could provide the wisdom and strength to do the job to which he had been called (Herald, 2000).
When Elder Schneider retired in 2010, he and Marti went to help the Denver South church in Colorado. They agreed to stay for a year when the church’s pastor was reassigned but ended up staying three years with both of them serving together as pastors. Passionate about the Reformation and its history, the Schneiders led forty-two tour groups across Germany and sometimes to Rome, visiting sites from the life of Martin Luther (Maran, 2019). They made Luther’s life and works become real for those in their tour groups. Elder Schneider passed away on May 23, 2019, in Burleson, Texas, at the age of seventy-six. He and Marti had been living in Cleburne, Texas. Don will always be known as a “friend of Jesus”.
(1960, Nov. 10). Review and Herald, p. 15.
(1962). Southwestern Junior College. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.
(1964, Feb. 26). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
(1964, Sep. 1). Marshall News Messenger, p. 6.
(1965, Jun. 13). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
(1966, Feb. 22). Ibid.
(1968, Jan. 2). Ibid.
(1968, May 29). Ibid.
(1984, Jun. 29). Elder Schneider is Guest at Adventist. Baxter Bulletin, p. 15.
(2000, Sep. 1). Lake Union Herald, p. 8.
Ancestry Family Trees. (2019, Oct. 2). Don Carl Schneider. Retrieved from ancestry.com.
Dower, Richard. (2000, Sep. 1). Lake Union Herald, p. 14.
Maran, Kimberly Luste. (2019, Aug. 1). Review and Herald, pp. 9, 10.
Schneider, Don. (1995, Jan. 1). Lake Union Herald, p. 2.
Ibid. (1997, Jul. 1). Elder’s Digest, p. 11.