Ralph Fredrick Schroeder, 98, Clear Lake, died Dec. 11, 2017, at the Muse-Norris Hospice Inpatient Unit, Mason City, Iowa.
A memorial service will be held at 12 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, at Galilean Lutheran Church, 4454 255th St, Clear Lake, with the Rev. Scot McCluskey officiating. The service will be followed by a time of fellowship.
Ralph Fredrick Schroeder, a first generation American, was born Feb. 13, 1919, in a parsonage of a Lutheran congregation in rural Dodge County, Neb. His father, an East German, had met his mother, an Englishwoman, in London, prior to going to the United States to attend college and seminary. After serving as a governess in Germany prior to World War I, his mother left Germany as an enemy alien on a neutral ship bound directly for the United States of America, and there they were married, eventually raising five children. Ralph always said how grateful he was that his parents surmounted incredible odds to come to the United States and create a successful family.
Ralph attended the University of Nebraska, graduating in 1942. During the war, Ralph applied for and received Conscientious Objector status and subsequently performed public service working under the American Friends on social service projects and in social institutions. These included a reform school in Maryland and welfare agency in St. Croix, where part of his work was with a leper colony. While there, he married Betty Lefferdink and they served in various areas together. He spent his last months working in a hospital under the Church of the Brethren in Puerto Rico. Ralph and Betty raised three boys – Ralph, Reginald, and Randy.
Upon Ralph’s return to Nebraska, he completed and received his Masters of Social Work at the University of Nebraska in 1948. His employment history began in Minnesota in the adoption field, then moved to Germany where he worked closing with Lutheran relief centers. Upon his return to the United States, he worked as Superintendent of the Lutheran Children’s Home in Chicago. Later, he directed a family agency in Rockford, Ill. for 21 years, providing Protestant Welfare Services. When a call came from his close friend, Reverend Murley Severtson to come to Clear Lake and become Director of Social Services at Handicap Village, Ralph and Betty packed up and moved. Ralph assumed the position of Administrator at Handicap Village upon the death of the founder. He devoted his efforts to the establishment of outward bound residents, supervised apartment programs, the development of the North Iowa Transition Center in Mason City, and the building of the Group Home in Clear Lake that now bears his name.
Retiring in 1984, Ralph and Betty remained in Clear Lake and he became involved in programs for the elderly through AARP for eight years and the development of Elderberries at Zion Lutheran Church. Ralph was also very involved in Lions Club and other local groups. He became a common sight riding his bike and/or walking his beloved dog, Annie, around town.
Ralph is survived by his twin sister, Florence Mayfield, of California. He is also survived by three sons and daughters-in-law and their families, as follows: Ralph and Deborah Schroeder, of Holland, Mich. and their children, Matt and Shahna Schroeder, of Washington, DC, Joanna Schroeder and Ivan Stoilkovich of Malibu, Calif., Maude Ashley and Pete Steggerda, of Holland, Mich., and Madeline Ashley, of Chicago, Ill.; Reginald and Kathy Schroeder, of Omaha, Neb. and their children, Ryan and Jacci Schroeder, of Louisville, Ky., Amanda and Ian Wurst, of Erie, Colo. and Michael Harley and Melissa Thomas, of Des Moines, Iowa; Randy and Jean Schroeder, of Holland, Mich. and their children, Cory and Tracey Schroeder, of Hudsonville, Mich. and Kelly and Justin Wendzel, of Richland, Mich. Ralph is also survived by many great-grandchildren who loved him, respected him, and had so much fun playing with their special Opa. They even taught him how to play with fidget spinners in the last few months of his life! He felt very blessed to recently visit with many of them. Their names are: Amira, Ruan, Izac, Boden, Emma, Nora, Jacob, Addison, Mason, Lyric, Coleman, Brekan, Leyton, Jehnsen, Owen, Eloise, and Madeline. Another great-granddaughter, Rae Lucille, is expected in April. And beautiful great-granddaughter, Stella Gayle, greeted Ralph as he arrived in Heaven.
In addition, he will be missed by his extended Clear Lake family including all the Severtsons, Deb and Jack Amble, Jo Greenlee and family, Bob Ingersoll, and another important family in his life, the Sorensens.
Memorial Donations can be made to: American Friends Service Committee, 1501 Cherry Street Philadelphia, PA 19102 or online at afsc.org. (please note that your donation is in honor of Ralph F. Schroeder); Group B Strep Awareness International, 11 El Dorado Court Pomona, CA 91766 or use this online link to view and donate at the Memorial Page. gbsi.me/RalphBSchroeder (please note that your donation is in memory of Ralph F. Schroeder and in honor of his great-granddaughter, Stella Gayle Schroeder.)
Well done, good and faithful servant.
Ward-Van Slyke Colonial Chapels, Clear Lake, was in charge of arrangements.