Sep. 18, 1927 - March 13, 2013
Donald Schmanski, 85, died Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at the Lihue Medical Center following a battle with cancer.
He leaves his wife of 40 years, Sarah (Larson) Schmanski; his sons, Dean and Charlie Schmanski; his daughter, Sabra Knauf; his brother, Bernard Schmanski; his sister, Donna Marie Kowal; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and countless friends.
Born September 18, 1927 in Hazleton, MN and raised in Blue Earth, MN, the son of Irene and Andrew Schmanski, he was a resident of Eagle Lake, CA and Kalaheo, HI.
Growing up in Minnesota during the Great Depression, Don excelled in sports and school and helped earn money for his family by raising rabbits to sell for highly sought after meat. After serving in the navy in World War II, Don attended St. Mary’s College where he acquired a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Biology and Philosophy. He received his Masters Degree in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota.
Don had great success in the aerospace industry at Fiberite Inc. in Winona, MN where he worked for 25 years. He began as a research chemist and eventually became Vice President in aerospace operations. During the 1950s and 60s, Don invented heat-resistant plastic materials vital to the function of rocket boosters for ballistic missiles and the space shuttle.
In 1975, Don moved his family to Carson City, NV where he started Carsonite International using his chemistry and business experience to develop highway safety products that were sold throughout the world. Although he officially “retired” when he sold Carsonite, he was always busy with new adventures. He and Sarah moved several times as he enjoyed remodeling homes and developing properties showing yet another talent.
Don was a man of passion. He embraced technology both old and new and was always curious. His masterful sense of humor and political incorrectness entertained everyone who met him. He adored his wife and children and found great happiness in sharing his thoughts and views with his grandchildren. He will be missed.