Who was Walter Schroeder?
We are deeply grateful to the late Walter Schroeder. His vision in establishing the Walter Schroeder Foundation made the Aquatic Center possible. The Aquatic Center was built through a grant from the foundation to the YMCA. Walter Schroeder's history is indeed an unusual and interesting one. A native of Milwaukee, he was born on May 19, 1878 to German immigrant parents. Hard work was part of Schroeder's life from childhood. At age 14, Schroeder worked as a clerk in the office of the Milwaukee Register of Deeds for $3.50 a week. Shortly after, he became a staff member of the Milwaukee Legal News and within two years he helped form the Daily Reporter.
By age 21, Schroeder had joined his father in a real estate and insurance business known as the Chris Schroeder and Son Co. Within a few years Walter had established a record as Wisconsin's most energetic and competent salesmen, and his agency soon became the largest general insurance agency in Wisconsin. Between 1921 and 1924, Schroeder entered into an exciting program of developing a chain of hotels. In 1926, Schroeder started his most ambitious multi-million dollar project, the Schroeder Hotel (now the Milwaukee Hilton), which has become a distinguished landmark.
During his lifetime Schroeder, made large and frequent contributions to benefit young people. The gift from the Walter Schroeder Foundation to construct the Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center ensured that one of Milwaukee's most renowned citizens will continue to have a profound impact on the community. The Schroeder Aquatic Center opened in 1979 and at the time was the only indoor 50 meter pool in the state. The Milwaukee area competitive swimming community, led by swim team parents John and Anne Hazelwood, recognized the need for a facility of this type and presented the idea to the Schroeder Foundation and the YMCA. This new pool would be associated with the newly opened North Suburban Branch YMCA (1977), which had the land and would serve the entire competitive aquatics community. The foundation approved donating the four million dollars, and also set aside another $500,000 to be invested to provide for the long-term maintenance of the pool. At the time, this was the largest single donation to a YMCA in the world.
Click on Walter for a link to Ira Glasses' This American Life story about the Ghost of Walter Schroeder. It comes at 21:12 in Act II