Schneider, E. Carl E. Carl Schneider, of Edina, MN, former Vice President Kimberly-Clark Flax Fiber Operations, whose innovations revolutionized the decortication of flax and other fibers, died Friday, February 11, 2011. Mr. Schneider was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 29, 1920, earned a degree in electrical engineering from Marquette University and served in World War II as a Navy Mine Warfare officer. Through his hobby, amateur radio, Schneider met Louis Schweitzer owner of East Coast paper mills. Schweitzer spoke of his business problems, especially two Minnesota flax fiber mills that failed to produce the quantity or quality of linen fiber needed for his fine, highly technical papers. After Schneider told of his developmental engineering work for the Navy, Schweitzer flew to Milwaukee to personally meet Schneider and ask him to manage the unproductive Minnesota mills. In 1947 Schneider joined the Peter J. Schweitzer Company and moved to Windom, Minnesota, then called "The Flax Capital of the World." The Schweitzer Company later became a division of Kimberly-Clark from which Schneider retired in 1986. Historically, fine linen paper was made from linen fabric waste. Making linen paper from seed flax straw was a new concept. The Minnesota fiber mills, built to process hemp for World War II, used methods little improved over medieval decortication (separation of fiber from chaff) techniques. But, within two years, Schneider had the problem plants shipping 50,000 tons of quality flax tow (linen fiber) annually to Schweitzer's eastern paper mills. Schneider then turned to designing radically new decorticators and set up a machine shop at the Windom mill to build his patented creations that eventually led the world in flax fiber production. When competing crops forced flax north, escalating shipping costs, Schneider reduced his processor's size from several hundred feet to car-length, making possible mobile flax mills that won national awards for the concept of transporting a factory to its agricultural raw material source. He also created mobile mills that moved through individual fields, harvesting, decorticating and baling flax fiber on site while returning the by-product directly to the land. A multi-engine, instrument-rated pilot, Schneider logged over 10,000 air hours, flying throughout upper Midwest USA and into Canada and Mexico to oversee far-flung operations and survey increasingly distant flax-growing areas. Schneider also equipped Kimberly-Clark plants in Canada, Colombia, France and Mexico. Upon retirement he received Kimberly-Clark's esteemed Entrepreneurial Award. Schneider chaired Windom's Water and Light Commission for 35 years. An avid outdoorsman, his southwest Minnesota hunting camp was a gathering place for friends whose sons often shot their first ducks from Schneider's blinds. After retiring, he moved to Tonka Bay where he enjoyed fishing, but he returned often to his hunting shack to socialize and hunt with ex-employees and other friends. A skilled photographer, his pictures grace many Windom albums - and shortwave radio, his introduction to the world of flax and fine paper, remained a lifelong hobby. He is survived by wife Doris, daughter Heidi, son-in-law Joel Mintzer and grandsons Asher and Isaac Mintzer of Golden Valley, daughter Kate of Minneapolis, daughter Maria and Mark Righter of New York, sister Lorraine Henderson of Okauchee, Wisconsin, cousin Roy Butter of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, nieces and nephews, as well as many friends and business associates. Memorials may be made to the Marquette University School of Engineering or Ducks Unlimited. Services will be announced in the spring.

Published on February 14, 2011

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