Dolores Schroeder: A Servant’s Heart (52 Ancestors #04)

Dolores Louise Schroeder, circa 1949.

Dolores Louise Schroeder, circa 1949.

Dolores was my grandmother.  I was born the day after her 52nd birthday.  We both love daffodils and cooking, although, my love of those things is probably because of how much time I spent with her.  My cousins, siblings, and I spent every spare moment at her house.  At Christmas, I helped her bake Springerles and German Sour Cream Twists.  I still bake those every year.  I’m like her in many ways, but I aspire to be more like her.

Dolores Louise Schroeder was born on March 3, 1931 in Toledo, Ohio to parents George Herman and Louise Marie (Von Allmen) Schroeder.1,5  The Schroeders moved to Indiana when Dolores was about seven.  They lived in Lafayette in Floyd County, Indiana and joined Atkins Chapel United Methodist Church.1

Dolores graduated from Indiana Central College with a bachelor’s degree in education, and she received her master’s degree at Indiana University Southeast.  She taught at S. Ellen Jones school from 1954 to 1955.2  In 1955, she was forced to resign.  She would never tell me what happened.  The account I had from my grandpa, Sanford “Bud” Wiseheart, is as follows:

She was teachin’ over at S. Ellen Jones and Peder Espeseth was the principal over there.2,3  Well, he called her in the office one day and said, ‘Miss Schroeder, I’d like for you to resign.’  And she said, ‘Well, Mr. Espeseth, what in the world about?’  And he said, ‘You didn’t seek my counsel and that’s one of the rules in the school system.  Teachers always have to seek the principal’s counsel.’  She never could figure out what was provoking him and she went to see Willie Wilson, superintendent.  He said, ‘Miss Schroeder, unfortunately, in the school system, if you do not resign and he presses it and they fire you, then you can’t teach anywhere in the state of Indiana.  But if you do resign, you are free to go anywhere else in the state and teach.’  She said it hurt her terribly, but she went ahead and resigned to please Espeseth.  So she went back up to where she’d been goin’ to college and got on up there.

Dolores taught in Indianapolis from 1956 to 1958.4  By the summer of 1958, she had gone on some dates with Bud.  That story is also best told from his point of view:

Dolores and I had took in some things together.  We went to James Whitcomb Riley home and things like that.  Finally it came to July one night, I was goin’ home from her house.  We walked out to the car together and she said that it’s gettin’ to that time of the year when she has to let them know at Indianapolis whether she was goin’ to teach that year or not and she’d have to sign a contract.  And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know what to tell you, but,’ I said, ‘if you want to stay down here,’ I said, ‘I’ll sign a contract with you.’  And she said, ‘It sounds good to me.’  I guess that’s a crazy way of proposin’ to somebody.

Dolores Louise Schroeder and Sanford William Wiseheart were married on August 2, 1958 at Atkins Chapel United Methodist Church in Floyd Knobs, Indiana by Reverend Earl W. Reed.  5,6,7Dolores and Bud had four sons and ten grandchildren.9  She devoted her life to her family, her church, and helping others.

Dolores was the treasurer of Atkins Chapel for twenty years.  She was a Sunday school teacher and she was in charge of Vacation Bible School, a program to provide meals for those in need, and the church’s Harvest Homecoming booth.  She was also involved in the church’s quilting group, which made quilts for Home of the Innocents and St. Elizabeth’s Maternity Center; Helping Hands ministry, which paid rent and utility bills for people who couldn’t afford it; women’s missions; fundraising for charities; and other outreach, such as visiting the sick.  In 2006, Dolores received the Gold Leaf Award from Community Foundation for outstanding volunteer service.8,9

Dolores Louise Wiseheart died of leukemia on Sunday, September 10, 2006 at her home in New Albany, Indiana.9

Dolores Louise (Schroeder) Wiseheart, June 2006.  Photo taken by Keith Williams for The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY).

Dolores Louise (Schroeder) Wiseheart, June 2006 at Atkins Chapel United Methodist Church. Photo taken by Keith Williams for The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY).

I wonder if she really didn’t know why Mr. Espeseth wanted her to resign, or if she just didn’t want to say.  I never heard her say a bad word about anyone in her entire life.  Just a few weeks ago, I was down at my grandparents’ house with my dad and my uncles.  We were going through paperwork and came across some of her school records.  This prompted my uncle to tell us what he knew about what had happened with Grandma and Mr. Espeseth.  Dolores had been in charge of a school play and had allowed African American children to be in it (this was during integration).  Mr. Espeseth was upset that she hadn’t consulted him about it and asked her to resign.  I’ve always been proud of my grandma, but hearing this story makes me tremendously proud of her for doing the right thing.


Sources

1.  1940 U.S. Federal Census, Lafayette, Floyd County, Indiana, p.1B, FamilySearch

2.  Caron’s New Albany-Jeffersonville (Floyd-Clark Counties, Ind.) City Directory, Vol. 40, 1955, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

3.  New Albany Tribune, 9 Oct 1963, p.1, c.6, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

4.  Polk’s Indianapolis (Marion County, Ind.) City Directory, Vol. 47, 1957, InternetArchive

5.  Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Vol. 55, p.244, Floyd County Clerk’s Office

6.  New Albany Tribune, Sun 24 Aug 1958, p.6, c.1, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

7.  New Albany Ledger & Tribune, Sun 2 Aug 1998, p.B2, c.3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

8.  The Courier-Journal (Louisville), Sat 24 Jun 2006, p.B3, c.2

9.  New Albany Tribune, Tues 12 Sep 2006, p. A3, c.3

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