Former Local 13 Vice-President Kevin Robert Schroeder passed away on November 27, 2012, at the age of 58 in San Pedro where he had been a lifelong resident and union leader. Schroeder worked for years as a commercial fisherman, but spent the majority of his working life as a proud, third-generation longshoreman. He held numerous union positions, including Vice-President of Local 13.
He was passionate about political action, and played an important role developing relationships between the ILWU and politicians. In 1996, Schroeder was honored with the task of introducing President Bill Clinton during an official visit to the Harbor area. He also met with President Obama during an early campaign stop.
Co-workers, family members and political leaders gathered at a December 5th memorial service to honor Schroeder’s life. ILWU leaders who participated in the service included Local 94 Executive Board member Marco Geich who offered a serenity prayer and International Executive Board member Frank Ponce De Leon who read a scripture and provided a reflection.
“Kevin was light years ahead of me, but he always made members feel welcome and appreciated. I remember back in 2002, after I had a miserable day as a newly-elected Secretary-Treasurer Kevin told me how important it was to treat people right: ‘People will forget what you said, and they’ll forget what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.’”
International Vice President Ray Familathe fought back tears as he remembered Schroeder’s contributions to the union. “Kevin had a big heart and was like a brother to me. He thought out-of-the-box, had a political mind that followed current events and politics, and taught us about the importance of making relationships with members of Congress, City Councils, Mayors and state officials.”
Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal praised Schroeder as “A giant to his family, friends and co-workers at the Ports.” She presented the family with an official resolution adopted in his honor by the State Assembly. One of Schroeder’s final contributions was his determined effort to for Local 13’s new dispatch hall. “I remember Kevin going into a meeting with Port officials, and pledging not to leave there until he got their approval, which he finally did,” said Frank Ponce De Leon.
Schroeder and his wife of 37 years, Esther, suffered the painful loss of their son Robert Ryan Schroeder in 1996, but the couple endured together until the end. Their surviving son, Lee Schroeder, provided a beautiful Eulogy at the memorial. It was preceded by a slide show that captured Schroeder’s devotion to his union, friends and family – especially his three grandchildren; Sonny, Angelina, and Leo. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be sent to benefit the ILWU Scholarship Fund or the Southern California Pensioner’s Fund.