Lake County journalist and publisher William “Bill” Schroeder died Dec. 17, at in Barrington. He was 82.
Schroeder was the co-founder of Lakeland Publishers, based in Grayslake, which included numerous community newspapers across Lake County. He founded the newspaper group with his father, Marshall R. Schroeder, in 1956 and continued to serve as publisher until his retirement in 2005.
“He was extremely committed to the news business and really proud of owning this group of weeklies that served these hometowns,” said Rhonda Burke, who served as editor of the group for eight years in the ‘90s. Burke is the deputy director for public affairs, US Department of Labor, Midwest region.
Burke recalled that “Senior” (the nickname he was known by at Lakeland) was very interested in Lake County politics and concerned with rapid development of the county. She said he always encouraged reporters to cover the smaller areas.
“He was passionate about trying to remember those little enclaves that weren’t covered by the other press,” she said.
Pete Tekampe, long-time Fremont Township supervisor, recalled Schroeder's passion for the farm heritage of Lake County. He said he and Schroeder were part of a group that encouraged the Lake County Forest Preserve to make a model farm at Ray Lake Forest Preserve; the project did not go through.
"He wanted us to save some of our heritage so people in years to come would see how Lake County was," Tekampe said. "He was kind of a guru of open space," he said. Tekampe said they didn't often agree about politics, but both shared an interest in the county's agricultural heritage.
Schroeder grew up on a farm in Half Day during the Great Depression. He showed an interest in news at an early age. At 12, he produced a four-page newspaper for his grade school that included cartoons, according to an obituary provided by his family. At Libertyville High School, he was editor of the school newspaper.
He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he worked on the Daily Illini as a staff reporter. He worked as sports copy editor at the Champaign-Urbana Courier. He served as a staff sergeant in the Army during the Korean War.
Schroeder moved back to Lake County and worked as a general assignment reporter for the Waukegan News-Sun. After a few years, Schroeder convinced his father to sell their Half-Day farm in order to buy the newspaper group, according to the family.
Schroeder was a charter member of the Suburban Press Foundation, predecessor to Suburban Newspapers of America; he also served as president of the Illinois Press Association.
Schroeder was recognized for numerous journalism awards and accomplishments during his 55-year newspaper career, including winning the Illinois Press Association’s “Best in State” newspapers honors three times, the 2002 CHINFO award for the best military newspaper in the world, helped locate and finance the Illinois Press Association’s headquarters in Springfield, and winner of 2003 SNA Dean Lescher national award for lifetime journalism achievements.
His family recalled that some of his prouder newspaper accomplishments include reporting the Hebron High School state basketball championship team, the columns written in support of keeping Great Lakes Navy Base open, the support for opening Condell and Good Shepherd hospitals, support for the establishment of Lake Michigan water to western Lake County communities, and the establishment of the annual M.R. Schroeder/Lakeland Newspapers scholarship at the College of Lake County.
A Long Lake resident, Schroeder was also involved in many civic organizations.
Visitation is scheduled from 3 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 22, at Ringa Funeral Home in Lake Villa. A memorial service will be held at the funeral home at 10 a.m., Friday. See William Schroeder obituary on Legacy.com