On Nov. 17, 2012, Thomas Joseph Schroeder, past Clerk and beloved member of Logan Monthly Meeting, passed away in his Logan home surrounded by family and the loving thoughts of his community.
He was born February 29, 1948, in Merrill, Wisconsin, and spent his childhood years in Illinois and Mississippi. He earned degrees from Tulane, Utah State, and Northern Arizona Universities. He served as a teacher and associate professor in the Intensive English Language Institute at Utah State University for the past thirty-six years. Drawn to the beauty and simplicity of life in Cache Valley, he planted his roots there in 1974 and cultivated an intricate life promoting cultural understanding for peace and social justice.
Tom was the father of Emily and Martin and married to Cathy Webb, later divorced and re-married to Hsiu “Anne” Chiang.
Tom had a great influence in the community and as a friend, educator and activist. He was very knowledgeable of Quaker process and could explain it very clearly. He was very active and took a leading role in Cache Community Connections, an interfaith group started after 9-11 to foster mutual respect and understanding that included representatives from Christian, Quaker, Muslim and Jewish faiths. He was also very active in peace activities including organizing and speaking at many Cache Valley events, Occupy San Francisco, the Nevada Nuclear Test Site. He was a long time stalwart member of the Logan Peace Vigil, sometimes standing by himself, holding a sign on Main Street, witnessing for peace.
Logan Monthly Meeting positions held included several terms as Clerk, Convener of Ministry and Oversight, Nominating Committee, and representative to IMYM Continuing and Nominating Committees. Tom Schroeder inspired the kind of trust and respect that prompted many couples to ask him to lead their weddings.
Tom loved his friends and family and loved a good party. He made many life long friends of his English as a Second Language students.
The dignity and grace with which he faced his death from cancer was a inspiration and provided a model of courage and fortitude.
His own words, taken from his last post tenure review, reflect his ideal and passions:
"A society entrusts its continuation and well-being to members of its institutions. Among those institutions none is more essential than education. As I write this I am struck by the personal irony. My first teaching experience was in Saigon, Vietnam in 1971. There I was thrown into a community of misfit teachers, all of whom had followed non-traditional paths to arrive at that station. Few, if any of us, supported the military action in Vietnam and we saw our language teaching of Vietnamese military personnel as a means of keeping them out of the war.
It was from these students that I learned a pivotal cultural lesson. While I felt at odds with my country's policy and leadership, they made me see that I was undeniably a product of my culture. As a product of my culture, I have since tried to pass on and promulgate the values and qualities that "make this country great." Independence of thinking, respect for the worth of every individual and culture, and the value of being a contributing member of society have been among the qualities I hope to have passed forward. Further, I hope to have advanced the cause of peace and social justice. Thus, I feel honored to have been accorded the position of "teacher" in my society.
I am grateful for the lessons I have been given, the growth in empathy, the fostering of caring and consideration, and the opportunity to share love with so many wonderful human beings."
A Quaker memorial service, attended by hundreds, was held Sunday December 9th, at the Whittier Center in Logan, Utah. It was followed by Tom’s last great party, a wake with food and drinks that celebrated his life.
Tom’s commitment to peace, his hearty laugh and his quick wit, and his insights are greatly missed. Tom was a mainstay of Logan Monthly Meeting and a large presence in Cache Valley. His departure has left a large void. His legacy is rich and deep.