(March 17, 1922 – July 24, 2023)
Patricia Amy Schroeder, nee Lill, passed away peacefully on Monday, July 24, 2023, at Silver Creek Assisted Living Facility in Mascoutah, IL, lovingly surrounded by family. Born on St. Patrick’s Day, she enjoyed living up to her namesake by wearing green and calling herself a leprechaun all the way through to her 101st birthday.
Pat was proud of growing up in small town Mascoutah, where her great-grandparents immigrated from Germany. She graduated from Mascoutah High school and then from Southern Illinois-Normal University with a teaching degree in 1943. In testament to her longevity, upon graduation from college she received a lifetime subscription to Readers Digest from her older sister which she enjoyed for over 80 years. Pat taught elementary and high school students in Mascoutah and Highland. She often reminisced about her teaching days, being especially fond of her third graders.
She relished sharing stories about the great romance she and her late husband shared. In college, Pat asked a friend to call on her behalf to invite her classmate, Meryl, to the Sadie Hawkins dance being afraid of rejection. After a brief courtship, she went on to teach in Highland, IL while Meryl was stationed aboard a Navy ship in the South Pacific during World War II. They agreed via telegram to meet in San Francisco to get married while he was on leave. In July of 1945, wearing her wedding dress, she boarded a train crowded with prisoners. She perched atop her suitcase in the aisle all the way to San Francisco. On arrival, she received word that Meryl was in San Diego, and so she hopped on a bus with a driver so intoxicated that a fellow passenger drove most of the way. When they reunited, they found the First Presbyterian Church in San Diego in the Yellow pages. The pastor suggested using the flowers from a wedding to be held later that day. Afterwards, telegrams were sent to family in Illinois announcing their elopement on July 3, 1945. Meryl prepared to return to the South Pacific, but much to their delight it was announced the war was over.
During their 61 years of marriage living in Mascoutah they raised their two children, surrounded by extended family. With roots firmly planted, they spent as much time as possible seeing the world. Pat relished in collecting art and treasures from these travels which were displayed thoughtfully in her home and sparked many conversations over the years. As the only woman, she boldly ran for and won a seat on the first Board of Belleville Area College (now Southwestern IL College). She was a past president and founding member of the Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. Pat was an avid tennis player, gardener, lover of books, art, the study of all things spiritual, always in pursuit of understanding and knowledge. She was a lifelong student of the world. In any given situation she would seek what she could learn from it. She mastered the art of the “visit,” loving nothing more than welcoming a diverse group of friends and family around her kitchen table to hear about their lives and adventures, full of curiosity and her feisty remarks. Her creative flair was expressed in cooking dishes from around the world, hosting parties and gatherings, and donning bright colors and accessories often inspired by her travels.
Her beloved mother Flora inspired Pat’s commitment to making the world a better place as Flora was a founding member of the Mascoutah Public Library and supported Women’s Right to Vote. Pat was a lifelong member of St. John United Church of Christ, having served as church council president. She was active with the Mascoutah Food Pantry and the Espenschied Chapel, and was honored as the “Person of the Year” by the Mascoutah Chamber of Commerce. She had firm opinions about most everything and did not hesitate to express them. But most of all, she was eager to express how richly blessed she was, and was so grateful for her family, her many friends, and more recently, her caregivers.
She was preceded in death by her parents Herbert F. Lill and Flora Beineke Lill, her husband Meryl T. Schroeder, a sister Dr. Dorothy Lill Larson, a sister Marjorie Lill Worms, a son in law Robert J. Connolly, daughter in law Mary Balestri Schroeder, brothers in law Dr. William Larson, Elfred M. Worms, and brother and sister in laws, Roy and Opaline Yates, and Frank and Ivanelle Walter, and niece, Jane Larson.
Pat’s loving spirit lives on in her son Kent Schroeder (Jeanette Materkowski), and daughter Kay Schroeder Connolly, grandchildren, Ryan (Meilani) Connolly, Kristin (Clive Cullen) Connolly, Matthew (Jiyeon) Schroeder, Gregory (Dr. Christine Mallo) Schroeder, great grandchildren Christopher and Timothy Connolly, Sebastian Connolly, Hana, Lena, and Mina Schroeder, Colette Schroeder and a great-granddaughter on the way. Also surviving are nieces and nephews Nancy Larson (William O’Hara), Rev. Jan Worms, David Yates, Peggy (Keith) Bethel, and Richard (Dianne) Yates, David Day, and a host of other family and friends who called her Granny.
A special thanks for the wonderful care she received from the caregivers at Comfort At Home, Silver Creek Assisted Living Center and the wonderful care that Hospice of Southern Illinois provided. In recent years, Pat loved to share her advice for a good, fulfilled life, which was to “be yourself at all costs, while listening and learning from others with kindness.”
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to the Mascoutah Public Library in honor of her mother, Flora Beineke Lill, or the Mascoutah Senior Center in appreciation of their Meals on Wheels program.
Visitation will be held at the Espenschied Chapel, 317 N. County Rd., Mascoutah, on Sunday August 13 from 4-6 pm and on Monday, August, 14 from 9-10 am.
A Memorial service will be held at Espenschied Chapel at 10 am August 14, 2023, officiated by Pastor Bob Goddard, interim pastor from St. John United Church of Christ.
Moll Funeral Home