The Braille Monitor _______ October 1997
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Dr. Wallace Schroeder
PHOTO/CAPTION: Fred Moore]
Wallace Schroeder and Fred Moore
by Kenneth Jernigan
Fred Moore, long-time stalwart in the
National Federation of the Blind of Iowa, died October 6, 1996; and less than
four months later, on February 3, 1997, he was followed in death by Dr. Wallace
Schroeder, another long-time member and leader of the Iowa affiliate. It has
now been several months since I heard the news of these sad events, and each
time I have tried to write about them, I have had difficulty. The reason is
probably tied up with the fact that these two, Dr. Schroeder and Fred Moore,
symbolize for me in a very personal way my early days in Iowa and, to a great
extent, my entire Iowa experience.
Ruth (Dr. Schroeder's wife--they were married in 1959) was one of the first people I met in 1958 when I came to Iowa to become Director of the State Commission for the Blind. She joined the Commission staff as a home teacher shortly after I got there and soon became the home economics teacher in the orientation center we established.
I remember a day in the summer of 1958 when I went to the home of Dr. H. F. Schluntz, whose wife was the sister of Ruth's late husband. Ruth was there, and so of course was Dr. Schroeder. Since Dr. Schluntz and Dr. Schroeder were both chiropractors, they had a common professional interest, but their relationship went far deeper than that. We had an afternoon of relaxation and really getting to know each other. It was probably my first intimate acquaintance with the Schroeders, and it led to a lifetime of mutual support and friendship.
Of course this article is meant to be about Dr. Schroeder, not Ruth. But how can I write about one without mentioning the other? They were and are inseparable in my memory. There is no way in the time and space allotted that I can paint the picture or draw the portrait.
The scenes and incidents flow together and blend: conversations with Ruth when we had no equipment for home economics and used an old laundry tub for washing dishes; dinners at the Schroeders' home; the afternoon Dr. Schroeder cooked a ham on his grill and we kept loading in charcoal when his back was turned; the gathering of the students at Christmastime to read the story that had become traditional; the staff meetings; the lunches in the home-ec department; and a thousand other things.
But none of these can capture the real essence of Dr. Schroeder as I knew him. He was quiet and undemonstrative, but he was unwavering and steady. When the insanity came in Iowa and long-time friends began to waffle and make excuses, Dr. Schroeder merely said: "I'll track with you all the way." And he did.
There is no reason for me to recount the events of my relationship with Dr. Schroeder and Ruth. Those who want to know such things can doubtless learn about them from others. Rather I want to underscore and emphasize the loyalty, the integrity, and the character of the Schroeders. And so, too, with Fred Moore. He was always quiet, always unassuming--but this did not mean that he was weak or uncommitted; for he was not. He was a man of great moral strength and deep conviction. And I never knew him to desert a cause or a friend.
And when I mention Fred, I must also mention Beulah, his devoted wife and companion, who survives him. In good times and bad, Beulah was as steadfast as Fred. She, too, was quiet and undemonstrative, a worthy partner in all that Fred did.
My daily association with Fred was less frequent and personal than my contact with the Schroeders, but it was no less rewarding. Fred was always there, always supportive--and I knew without asking that he could be counted on. As to standing firm when the going was rough, I suppose it never occurred to anybody (whether friend or foe) that Fred could be intimidated, flimflammed, or bullied. He knew what he believed, and he lived it. That was the end of the matter.
So these two are gone, Fred Moore and Dr. Schroeder--and with them part of the me that lived and worked and dreamed in Iowa. Perhaps that is what life is, a series of beginnings and endings. If so, the Iowa of the late `50's, the `60's, and the `70's should be characterized as one of the most rewarding of the episodes. A time to remember; a time to keep; a time to inspire for the future. And if it be so, Dr. Wallace Schroeder and Fred Moore are principal elements in the mix.
As I have already said, it has been difficult to write these words. Not because they are less deeply felt, but for the opposite reason. Dr. Schroeder and Fred, you are symbols of a time that is gone. May you also be symbols of a time at hand--when a new generation of the blind will enter a new century, inspired and uplifted by the hope and belief which you helped create, and which because of you and others like you will inevitably come true.