Milton Gates Schroeder, a Korean War veteran and dedicated family man, died September 6, 2019 at the age of 92.
Milton, widely known and respected for his welding and machinist skills, recently received hip surgery and had developed pneumonia. He passed on peacefully at the VA Hospital in Omaha surrounded by his family.
Besides his family, his greatest source of joy was operating Schroeder Machine Shop in Shelton NE. After serving in the Korean War from 1951 to 1953 and attending trade school in Milford in 1953, he was a young man with a talent for welding and a vision for the future. In 1954 the Schroeder Machine Shop was established. From humble beginnings in a tiny shop on the bricks of Main street, he soon became one of the most important men in town. He kept the local farmers going during the busy crop season and took care of much of the area’s small manufacturing needs in the winter. His slogan was “we can fix anything but the break of day.” The Schroeder Machine Shop tradition today continues under the direction of son Marlin Schroeder.
Milton was born in a farmhouse north of Shelton on October 19, 1926. He was the youngest of five children born to Henry F. Schroeder and Sadie Ann Clements. He attended elementary country school districts 10 and 43. He graduated from Shelton High School in 1943. His father Henry died in 1933 when Milton was nine years old, leaving son Fred as the oldest brother at home. Believing in Milton’s machining talent and penchant for business, Fred was instrumental in helping Milton establish his business in Shelton.
In 1953 he met Irma Deeds at a Tri-F church function in Grand Island, Nebr. They were married at the Trinity Methodist Church in Grand Island May 13, 1956 and set up house in Shelton. Not only was Schroeder Machine Shop a busy hub, but Irma managed Kiddies’ Korner Day Care Center which became a fixture for many families who lived in Shelton and commuted to surrounding towns. Milton and Irma were equal partners in their marriage, carefully counting every penny so their four children could thrive, and he and his wife could live a comfortable life. They succeeded marvelously.
An amateur photographer, when he wasn’t working Milton was usually spotted with a 35mm camera hanging on a strap around his neck. He photographed weddings, family events, and scenery during trips to the mountains. Every summer he made sure the family packed the car with camping gear and visited a National Park. Colorado, Wyoming, and Arizona were favorite destinations. He processed and printed his own film and shared them with family during weekend slide shows where his homemade ice cream was often served. He loved the 4th of July when he could bring his welding torch home and light up the empty lot next door with fireworks.
A member of the Democratic party, he was a model of civility. He was a quiet man, well read, fiscally conservative and socially liberal. He was a man of great patience and sometimes displayed his patience by letting the day care kids “do his hair” while he was eating lunch. He succeeded in getting along with everyone no matter what their religious or political beliefs. During Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign visit to central Nebraska, Milton and brother Fred were his hosts. As an active member of the Shelton United Methodist Church, he served in Methodist Men. After his election in 2002, he served as the Village Township Treasurer. He was always happy to help his neighbors and friends with repairs. He was not a football fan, but he did love cars and racing. He also enjoyed attending the occasional baseball game with family. He never said no to ice cream.
He is survived by his wife, Irma and four children: Phyllis Schroeder, Dallas, TX; Gary Schroeder and wife Tammy, Axtell, NE; Marlin Schroeder. Shelton, NE; and Kenley Schroeder and wife Andiy, Shelton, NE. His posterity includes 16 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Sadie Schroeder; brothers Floyd, Fred, and Roy; and a sister Alice. Memorials are suggested for the Shelton Fire Department and the Shelton United Methodist Church.