Dr. Merle K. Schroeder, 80, of McPherson, KS, passed away peacefully at home on Monday, August 10, 2020, surrounded by family. Merle, fondly known as “Doc”, practiced Optometry in McPherson for 50 years. He was a member of the First Baptist Church, McPherson.
Merle was born in Wichita on September 9, 1939, to Ruby and Otto Schroeder of Hillsboro, KS. He attended Bethel College in Newton followed by Tabor College in Hillsboro, where he met his wife of 29 years, Darlene Suderman. They married in 1960 before heading to Texas where Merle graduated from the University of Houston.
Merle opened his first Optometric practice in McPherson in 1963, and later added offices in Buhler and Wichita. In his early years, he was a member of the McPherson Kiwanis Club and served on various committees for the Kansas Optometric Association. He was also involved with VOSH International (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity), a now global mission organization which was founded in Hillsboro, KS by Dr. Franklin Harms.
One of the highlights for Merle came in 1977, when he served as the Project Director for a VOSH mission trip to Nicaragua. A team of optometrists and Mennonite missionaries traveled to a small interior village called Nueva Guinea, roughly 200 miles from Managua. Merle and his fellow optometrists set up a temporary clinic where they provided eye exams and glasses (donated through the Lions Club) for the locals while the missionaries served as interpreters. He described countless stories of people’s excitement when they received a pair of glasses and could finally see clearly. He also shared heart breaking situations when people came with more serious eye problems that they weren’t equipped to treat. Merle said he felt the Lord called him to go on that trip which left an indelible impression on him.
Merle retired in 2013, after receiving his 50 year Service Pin from the Kansas Optometric Association.
Merle is survived by Darlene Schroeder, McPherson & Fresno, CA, his three children Jeff Schroeder (Debbie), Tulsa, OK, Tamara Schroeder, Pasadena, CA and Scott Schroeder (Elizabeth), Gallatin, TN, 4 grandchildren; Ryan Schroeder, Colorado Springs, CO, Dillon Schroeder, Cockeysville, MD, Haley Schroeder and Landon Schroeder, Gallatin, TN, sister-in-law; Clarice Schroeder of Hillsboro, KS, nieces; Margo Stratton (Ken Lang), Overland Park, KS and Jennie Houck (Ron), Terrebonne, OR and nephews; Dennis Grote (Carrie), Tulsa, OK, Gary Schroeder, Fort Collins, CO, Rick Schroeder (Yona) Shawnee, KS, Randy Schroeder (Kim), Auburn, WA and Ryan Schroeder (Marcia), Kansas City, MO.
Merle was preceded in death by his parents; Ruby and Otto Schroeder, brothers; Alfred Schroeder and Dean Schroeder, both of Hillsboro, KS, brother and sister-in-law; Victor and Jane Schroeder, Redmond, OR, sister and brother-in-law; Alva and Hilbert Grote, Bossier City, LA and niece Karen Grote, Shreveport, LA.
The family will receive friends from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Friday, August 21, 2020, at Stockham Family Funeral Home. A Celebration Service will be held at 11:00 AM, Saturday, August 22, 2020, at the First Baptist Church, McPherson. Graveside Service will follow at Haven of Rest Cemetery in Hillsboro.
Memorial donations may be given to the First Baptist Church in care of Stockham Family Funeral Home, 205 North Chestnut, McPherson, KS 67460.