On Nov.17, Thomas Joseph Schroeder, a man of great worth and great heart passed away in his Logan home surrounded by the loving thoughts of his community and his family. He was born Feb. 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 USU for the past 36 years. Drawn to the beauty and simplicity of life in Cache Valley, he planted his roots here in 1974 and cultivated an intricate life promoting cultural understanding for peace and social justice.
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Tom Schroeder was a man of many hats. He was a husband, father, friend, educator, activist and, generally, a person of great influence. It is not surprising that we long for his words and advice in such a time of need. As a result, we have chosen to include his own words written for his last post tenure review to reflect his ideals and passion.
"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, Viet Nam 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 Viet Nam 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."
His presence and passing have influenced many. We are humbled by the outpouring of love and support from those whose lives he touched, and have been touched by, our dear friend. We hold each of you in the light as we grieve this loss…
A public memorial service, under the care of the Religious Society of Friends, is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Sunday Dec. 9 at the Whittier Center (290 N. 400 East, Logan Utah). A potluck, and celebration of his life, will follow the service.
In Tom's spirit, we ask that you memorialize him by telling a good joke, making a toast and, in lieu of flowers, contribute to a cause that promotes peace and social justice.
Published in Logan Herald Journal from Nov. 24 to Nov. 27, 2012