A Doctor's Doctor
By Greg Schaber
Nathan D. Singer, Amber D. Richardson and Kimberley L. Herrmann didn’t know Dr. Richard Schroder. But the impact of his generosity and foresight will resonate through their lives just the same. On Nov. 10, the three freshman pre-med students became the first-ever recipients of the Dr. C. Richard Schroder Memorial Scholarship. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a lifelong volunteer, Schroder died on May 5, 2001, at the age of 90.
But he extended his already considerable legacy at the University and in the Cincinnati medical community by earmarking one-eighth of his estate for the creation of the scholarship program. The scholarship will be presented to up to five pre-med students annually, with awards based on students’ academic qualifications and financial need.
Louis E. Schroder Sr., says the gift was very much in keeping with his brother’s character. “Doc’s life was built around helping people and volunteering,” he says. “He was the first doctor at the clinic at Xavier—it’s called the McGrath Clinic now. He donated his time. He loved Xavier and the Jesuits.”
Some University alumni also may remember Schroder as their landlord. “His office was on Montgomery Road just up from Dana Avenue,” Louis Schroder says. “And he owned about three or four houses in a row there where he rented rooms to Xavier students who were living off campus.”
A lifelong Cincinnatian, Schroder grew up in Pleasant Ridge and attended St. Xavier High School. After graduating from the University in 1932, he attended the University of Cincinnati Medical School, completed his residency at Good Samaritan Hospital and launched his practice in Avondale in 1938. “He was a family doctor, and in those days family doctors made house calls,” Louis Schroder says. “I remember many nights he wouldn’t get home until 11:00 p.m.”
During World War II, Schroder served in the medical corps with the U.S. Army’s 702nd tank battalion. Following the war, he continued his private practice and was a staff physician at Good Samaritan, St. Francis/St. George and Providence hospitals, as well as at Longview State Psychiatric Hospital.
But one of his favorite roles was his long-running tenure as medical director at Fort Scott Camps, the summer camp operated until 1989 near New Baltimore, Ohio, by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. For 38 years, beginning in 1950, he spent summers there tending to campers’ bruises, cuts, scrapes and cases of homesickness. Schroder’s roots at Fort Scott ran deep. According to a May 1, 1987, article in The Catholic Telegraph, “The only years Dr. Schroder remembers not being at Fort Scott were while he was in the military. Before that he’d been a camper and, while in medical school, the physician’s assistant.”
The article goes on to say that a number of campers returned to be Schroder’s assistants when their camping days were over, and that some of these assistants went on to successful medical careers of their own. Indeed, Louis Schroder recalls his brother recruiting others to work at Fort Scott. “He would encourage nurses and students in the medical field to be his assistants,” he says.
Schroder’s volunteer work didn’t end with his retirement. For about 15 years, he donated his time caring for students at the Oneida Baptist Institute at Oneida, Ky. Nor was his giving all directed outward. “I have eight children and my sister has seven, and he helped us both to make it,” Louis Schroder says. “He helped my sons get to college.”
A member of the Knights of Columbus and the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Schroder is also remembered on campus with a tree and plaque on the academic mall in front of Logan Hall. Family and friends planted the tree to commemorate Schroder’s 89th birthday on July 10, 1999.
“Doc really was special,” Louis says. “He was very laid-back, and helped a lot of people without broadcasting it. He was interested in people and in his profession, and he wanted to do more for Xavier.”