Obituaries & Tributes

Donald Lee Schroder

date of birth July 26 1939

date of death September 25 2018

Donald Schroder made a life of building things, whether that meant building businesses, a big family, a fireplace, bird houses, stained glass windows, or, in his later years, as his struggle with Alzheimer’s prevented him from building much else, a devoted fan club of caregivers who he’d entertain with fabulous stories and various antics during dinner time.

In high school, Don scraped by on low grades and a willingness to learn the autobody trade at a local shop. (He said he much preferred working on cars and riding motorcycles than going to school). Although nobody accused Don of being a scholar, he trusted his ability to learn just about anything. This served him well when, as a young man with a family to raise, he fibbed about his job experience to get hired by Warn Industries without having a clue how to do the job he was hired for.He said, “I watched the guy who was working next to me, and figured out pretty quickly how to do the job.” Don stayed at Warn until, in his words, “I had moved up in the company as far as I could without having a college degree.” At that point, Don decided to make a leap. Reading had always been something of a struggle for Don, and none of his children ever witnessed him reading for pleasure. However, in the early 1970’s Don saw a future for himself in plastics, and began bringing home giant books about plastics and the industry, teaching himself what other people would go to college for. Don studied until he became an expert on the process of injection molding.

For the next thirty years, Don was a well-respected Sales Engineer for a series of plastic injection molding companies, building several companies from small players in the industry to large ones, using his knowledge and formidable people skills to win giant contracts from the likes of corporations such as Hewlett Packard and IBM.

Meanwhile, Don and his wife Lavonna (known to friends and family as Vonnie), embarked on building a family. Having had two children through natural processes, they started realizing that the world was full of underprivileged children. Why bring more children into the world, they wondered, when they can adopt ones without parents already here? During their lives, they adopted and raised six more children.

Shortly after moving to Canby Don and Vonnie joined with another couple (Leo and Shirley Henry) to start up a Church of Christ, and in the late 1970’s Don and Vonnie opened Canby’s first Natural Foods Store.

Don spent his free time in his shop, listening to rock ‘n roll oldies, and working on various projects. A kind of genius with his hands, Don taught himself all kinds of skills, from photography, to stained glass window making, to car repair, to motorcycle and bicycle restoration. In his retirement, he took to making birdhouses, dozens and dozens of one of a kind birdhouses.

Nothing made Don happier than when he was making things and making friends.

On September 25, 2018, Don passed away in his sleep to join Vonnie and his parents, who are no doubt, celebrating with him over a dish of fresh baked cinnamon rolls—his favorite childhood food, which no one could make quite as good as Anna Schroder, his mom. He’s been looking forward to tasting those rolls again, ever since her passing, thirty-five years ago.

A memorial service for Don will be held on Saturday, October 6th, at 1:00pm at the Canby Funeral Chapel.


3 tribute candles have been lit

Candle lit by Donna Smith To a Favorite Cousin: Your life was eventful, your personality and character impeccable, your family sociable and most hospitable, and your passing peaceful! What more could you have asked for...Your Schroder legacy shall stand!

Candle lit by Staff at Canby-Molalla Funeral Chapel Our sincere condolences.

Candle lit by Donna Hillman Smith My grandmother Sophie was sister to Don's father, Henry. I was double relative to Donald. As a four year old, our family, and grandma,traveled to Oregon to visit the Schroders. Don's mom and dad, Henry and Anna (Hillman) hosted us on their farm outside Mount Angel, making certain that our first sight of the ocean was an awesome experience. Their hospitality was memorable. So went the tradition of Donald and wife Vonnie. At age 21, as newlyweds, my husband and I packed up and headed for the Pacific NW! We maintained a close relationship with Don and Vonnie, first born Jay and Kelli, later their adopted daughter Gina, and finally with their newly adopted children. Don worked hard, dedicated much time to raising his children, and seemed always to have a positive outlook about life and its many unforeseen obstacles! He had a kind heart and great disposition. He more than earned his peaceful passage!

Canby Funeral Chapel • 160 South Grant Street Canby Oregon 97013 • info@canbyfuneralchapel.com(503) 266-1144
Molalla Funeral Chapel • 220 E. Main Street – Molalla, Oregon 97038 • info@molallafuneralchapel.com(503) 829-2379