Raymond Schroeder, 1912-2010

The father of MU employee benefits and friend to horticulture passes

Raymond Schroeder, known as the chief architect of University of Missouri benefits, passed away in Feb. 12, 2010 at the age of 97. At the time of his retirement in 1982, he had been a member of the faculty of the University of Missouri Department of Horticulture for 48 years. He served as its chairman for 27 years.

All University employees have Schroeder at least partially to thank for their retirement and benefits plans which he helped to formulate under the administration of President Elmer Ellis.

Schroeder was born June 14, 1912 in Kansas City, Mo. to John and Ella Schowengerdt Schroeder. He married Neva Pauline McCracken Aug. 10, 1941 and they had two daughters, Sandra Rae Shane and Neva Rae Bowler.

During his career at the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Schroeder taught General Horticulture and all of the Vegetable Crop Courses. He also served as an academic advisor. His research focused on vegetable crops, with emphasis upon the influence of nutrient-element balance upon the growth and nutritive quality of vegetable crops and the influence of root temperature upon the growth of vegetables.

Schroeder and the late C. M. Tucker, MU Department of Botany, jointly initiated a tomato breeding program to develop varieties that were highly resistant to the disease, Fusarium Wilt.

In recognition of his work, Schroeder was elected as a fellow in the American Society for Horticultural Science, a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and received the University of Missouri Distinguished Faculty Award in 1963.

An impact on MU and agriculture

“I think Dr. Schroeder’s greatest impact on the University was his effort to formulate our current retirement and benefits package,” said David Trinklein, CAFNR associate professor of plant sciences. “It is my understanding that (then) President Ellis personally approached Dr. Schroeder to head the committee that hammered out the details because of his respect for Dr. Schroeder’s ability.”

As to his impact in agriculture, Schroeder first and foremost was a horticulturalist, Trinklein said. As the Chair of the Department of Horticulture, he was a guiding force behind Missouri’s horticulture industry for 27 years.

“Tomato improvement seemed to be a special interest of his and he laid the groundwork for a program more fully developed by the late Dr. Victor Lambeth,” Trinklein said. “One might also point to the countless number of lives he positively influenced in his years of teaching and administration.”

Father of Many of MU Employee Benefits Plans

Schroeder was chairman of the sub-committee of the University Policy Committee when it designed and initiated the University’s Retirement Plan. He was proclaimed as “the chief architect of the basic provisions of the retirement plan.”

Schroeder was a member of the Policy Committee when it implemented the University’s Medical Plan, and was chairman of the Policy Committee when it developed both the Group Life Insurance and Deferred Tax Annuity Programs.

He was also chairman of the Policy Committee when it initiated the present, faculty elected, Faculty Council and dissolved the Chancellor-appointed Policy Committee. Schroeder was chairman of the committee whose recommendations resulted in the formation of the Inter-Campus Faculty Council.

Among the many other committees upon which he served are included, Chairman Retirement and Staff Benefits, charter chairman of the University-wide Environmental Health Committee, charter member of the Faculty/Alumni Awards Committee, charter chairman of the Student/Faculty Committee on Student Fees for Facility Improvement and chairman of the Traffic and Parking Committee when it initiated the Pedestrian Campus Plan.

Helping Grow CAFNR

He served nearly five years during World War II as a Food and Nutrition Officer. Two of those years he was assigned to the 5th Air Force in the Southwest Pacific Theatre. He was awarded 11 Battle Stars. He served as a Mobilization Designee food and Nutrition Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. He obtained the rank of Colonel.

His professional contacts and friendship with Margaret March and her daughter Matilda Cavanaugh resulted in their gift of their 600 acre farm to CAFNR. This helped establish the 1,025-acre Delta Research Center in Portageville, Mo. Scientists at the Delta Center conduct research on soybean cropping systems, weed, insect and disease control in all crops and variety evaluations.

His life-long relationship with the Reich family in Kansas City was instrumental in their establishing the Robert O. Reich Family Professorship in Horticulture.

Included in his travels to over 80 countries were three extended trips to India on MU business to establish relations with the Asum Agricultural College there.

The National Institutes of Health requested that the University grant him a three-month leave of absence so that he could serve as Agricultural Officer on the joint Brazilian-US Nutritional Survey Team for Northeast Brazil.

In 1981, he and his wife established the Schroeder Horticulture Undergraduate Internship Endowment Fund with the University of Missouri Alumni Association.