In Memoriam: Adolf Schroeder
The Society lost a pillar with the death of Adolph Schroeder. “Dolf,” as he was known to scores of Society members and other friends, passed away March 29 at the University of Missouri Hospital in Columbia following a brief illness. Dolf, 97 at the time of his death, had led a long, active, and productive life. Deep condolences are extended to his family; Dr. Schroeder is survived by his wife, Rebecca Boies Schroeder; son Richard Schroeder and his wife, Leah of Washington, D.C.; daughter-in-law Betty Schroeder of Baton Rouge, La.; and two grandsons, Michael Schroeder of Washington, D.C., and Luke Schroeder of Baton Rouge, La. His son Christopher Schroeder died earlier.
Dolf was born Feb. 1, 1916, in Covington, Va., to German immigrants, Richard Ernst Schroeder and Rosa Kordula Schroeder. At age five, he returned to Germany and lived with foster parents Ernst and Hildegard Hempelmann. In 1938, he returned to the U.S. in and graduated from the University of Illinois with the class of ‘41. He took his master’s degree at Louisiana State and his doctorate in German literature (Ohio State University) in 1950. He worked at a number of universities before moving to Missouri in 1969, and taught at Mizzou until 1985. Upon retirement, he was awarded emeritus status.
The Missouri Folklore Society, originally established in 1906, became inactive after several years but Dolf and Becky, working with Don Holliday, Cathy Barton, Don Lance, and others, reactivated the organization at a meeting in Columbia on March 30, 1977. Cathy Barton, who knew Dr. Schroeder and his wife through the society, said he was a “cultural gem.” “Those are the people you’re glad to know in your life,” said Dave Para, Barton’s husband and Missouri Folklore Society treasurer.
His son said Dr. Schroeder’s time living in Germany fueled his desire to teach others about German heritage. He especially enjoyed teaching those who had little knowledge of it, the result of anti-German sentiment after World War II, Richard Schroeder said. “A lot of the Germans here in the state deliberately wouldn’t talk about their history,” Richard Schroeder said. “They wouldn’t speak their language.” As the author and editor of many books, including several about Missouri towns rich with German history, Dr. Schroeder tried to change that sentiment. After his retirement from MU, Dr. Schroeder also led groups to Germany so they could reconnect with their places of origin. “People are interested in their own backgrounds,” Richard Schroeder said. “They’re interested in their histories and their families, and he helped them.”
Dolf remained active in the organization, rarely missing the annual meeting. He and Becky attended the 2011 meeting in Ste. Genevieve.
Dolf was a professor emeritus at the University of Missouri-Columbia where he had taught German. Dolf had numerous publications including several translations of German texts and spent a considerable amount of time visiting, photographing, and conducting interviews in the areas of both German and French settlement in Missouri. He and Becky also explored many other places in the state collecting folk songs and stories. With his vast knowledge of the state, he eagerly assisted students, researchers, and writers with their projects. Always a gracious host, Dolf warmly welcomed the frequent visitors to their home.
Dolf’s absence will be strongly felt by all members of his family, his friends, and fellow historians and folklorists. The Missouri Folklore Society will feel the loss of his guidance and leadership that we have enjoyed for so many years. Services will be held in late May at Lenoir Woods, 3710 S. Lenoir St. Memorial contributions can be made to the Lenoir Woods Benevolent Fund, the Rotary International Scholarship Fund or St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church.