Kurt Don Schlect, a lifelong grower in the Yakima Valley, passed away Feb. 5 at the University of Washington Medical Center due to complications of a double lung transplant in early September 2016. Kurt was a longtime partner at Highland Fruit Growers, Inc in Yakima and was vice president of the board of directors. He was 62.
Kurt was born in 1954 to Don and Betty Schlect. He grew up on his father’s apple orchard in west Yakima. After graduating from West Valley High School and attending Washington State University, he began his career in agriculture at his father’s orchard.
Kurt and his brother Neal would later discover and help develop the Schlect Spur red delicious sport that C&O Nursery was given rights to sell. Although he would openly admit that he was hesitant to plant new varieties he was always proud that he planted his first honeycrisp block in 2001.
Kurt and Neal appeared on the cover of the September 1987 Good Fruit Grower “Apple Land” edition.
As he got older, Kurt could delegate many day to day tasks to employees and would spend almost every available morning at the Starbucks on 72nd and Tieton in Yakima. Regardless of the goings on at Starbucks, he was always sure to make it to the warehouse where he attended the standing card game that took place every day at 10:00 a.m.
Also an avid golfer, he was once asked how he made time to play golf 3 times a week during the growing season, he replied, “You make time!”.
Kurt is survived by his father Don, wife Sally, daughter Sarah (Luke), son Donny (Laura) and son Eric, as well as 2 grandchildren, three brothers – Steve, Neal and Christian, and many other wonderful family and friends in the Yakima Valley.
A celebration of life will be held on February 18th at 2 pm at the Yakima Elks in Selah.
His family passes along this message, Go Cougs!