Accordion maestro will be missed
by John Tindall, Sussex Sun, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2002
Village of Sussex – A long-time volunteer, who brought music wherever he went, has fallen silent.
Harold Schroeder, 77, died Jan. 1. He spent his entire life as a resident of Sussex. He was born on his parents’ dairy farm on Highway J [now 164].
Schroeder worked for Hardiman Oil Company for 32 years and the Waukesha County Highway Department for 11 years, retiring in 1989.
But his real love was for music, and he shared it with anyone who would listen. He played polkas on his accordion for fans at the Sussex Senior Center, Alterra Sterling House, Bristol Court Apartments, or jam sessions with friends.
“He was just one of my best volunteers,” said Sussex Senior Center Director Tammy Rocker. “He will be missed.”
Schroeder got his first accordion when he was 8, and taught himself to play by ear. He never read sheet music, but could hear a melody and learn to play it, said his daughter Diane Schroeder.
At 17, Schroeder was playing professionally, performing with bands like Ray Wilcox’s Harmony Boys, the Merry Old Timers, and LeRoy’s Musical Knights.
As much as he loved the music, those who knew him said it was the smiles that crossed the faces of anyone listening that really motivated Schroeder.
“It made him very, very happy to bring happiness to others,” said Judy Downs, an employee of Alterra Sterling House. Downs said Schroeder would come to play just about any time he was asked, and was clearly saddened when he missed an opportunity.
“He was so touched that people would want him to play,” she said.
A complete obituary appears elsewhere in today’s paper.
Harold F. Schroeder of Sussex, 77, died Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2002.
He was a lifetime resident of Sussex, born on his parents’ dairy farm on Highway J, where the pheasant farm is today.
He worked for Hardiman Oil Company for 32 years and the Waukesha Highway Department for 11 years.
He got his first accordion when he was 8 and taught himself to play by ear. He never read sheet music, but could hear a melody and learn to play it. At, 17, he was playing professionally with a number of bands. He played for audiences at the Sussex Senior Center, Alterra Sterling House, Bristol Courts Apartments and elsewhere.
He is survived by Lorraine, his wife of 55 years; daughters, Diane Schroeder, and Linda [John] Martinez; granddaughter, Stacy Martinez; Sister, Helen Fredrich; nieces; nephews; other relatives; and friends.