Friends bid farewell to Curry County community icon Walt Schroeder

May 22, 2012 08:25 pm

Walt Schroeder, left, visits with his friends during Sunday’s farewell. The Pilot/Valliant Corley
Walt Schroeder, left, visits with his friends during Sunday’s farewell. The Pilot/Valliant Corley
GOLD BEACH – More than 200 people stopped by the Gold Beach Senior Center on Sunday to say goodbye to Walt and Sally Schroeder as they prepared to move from Gold Beach, where they had lived since Walt arrived as County Extension Agent about 45 years ago, to move to a retirement community in Dallas.

During their time in Gold Beach, both were volunteers to many organizations and Walt, after retiring as extension agent, served four sessions in the Oregon Legislature.

“In 1948, my parents and I drove back to Washington, D.C.,” Walt Schroeder told the crowd. 

He said they drove through Curry County and then south going through Texas to avoid the snow.

Then in 1949, when he was working with 4-H Clubs, he spent a lot of time at Floras Lake. Later, he was asked to come and judge at the county fair.

“I moved here in 1967 when I was hired for Curry County’s Extension Office,” he said. “I hoped to spend the rest of my life here. Age has a way of changing things.”

Schroeder said Sally no longer drives and it’s harder for him to drive to Corvallis and Vancouver, where sons Bob and John live. So the move to Dallas will leave them closer to those sons and closer to transportation to Mississippi, where son Doug lives.

Sunday’s party was sponsored by The Curry Historical Society, The Curry County Hospice, The Rotary Club and the Writer’s group and others, said Meryl Boice, president of the Historical Society, who has known the Schroeders since they arrived.

“They bought the house on Rogue River Heights when they first came,” Boice said.

“Walt was involved in most of the organizations in town. He loves to garden. He put in an orchard. When he retired he served four terms in the Legislature,” Boice said.

“Then he loved to work on the trails. He worked on trails all over Curry County, opened them up. He took kids on trail rides. He wrote a book on trail rides,” she said.

Two years ago, Schroeder received The National Coast Trail Association’s highest special award for outstanding achievement in developing missing links in the Oregon Coast Trail.

“Walt’s the spark. No, he is the lighting bolt for the Oregon Coast Trail along the south coast,” said Al LePage, director of the National Coast Trail Association, at the award presentation. 

“I cannot begin to express the appreciation I have for Walt Schroeder,” LePage said. “He has worked for years, freely giving of his time, energy and other resources to make the Oregon Coast Trail a reality.”

Boice said that besides the book on trails, Schroeder had written several others, including one on agriculture and others on Curry County history, including “They Found Gold on the Beach.”

“He helped to start the historical museum. He was president for two or three years and he was on the board until recently,” she said. “He was very much involved in the Hathaway Jones Festival. He was in Rotary, very involved in Rotary.”

Boice said both Walt and Sally were involved with hospice.

“Sally was also on the advisory board for hospice, in the DAR, worked on the pie booth at the fair for years. She and I both, until last year, cooked for all the volunteers at hospice when they had sales,” Boice said.