TAUNTON (CBS) — Friends, strangers, and veterans packed the West Congregational Church in Taunton Saturday to say their final goodbyes to 99-year-old Arthur Schroeder. The World War II veteran outlived his immediate and extended family, but he was surrounded by love.
Schroeder was known for his smile, his stories, and his joyful spirit.
He was born on Feb. 20, 1920 and served in the U.S. Army from 1942-1945 as a supply clerk and tank driver. “It wasn’t until we looked into his mural after his death that he had earned a Bronze Star,” said Pastor Ami Dion.
John Faidel considered Schroeder a second father. “When my father and mother didn’t catch something I did, he did and I still got in trouble,” he recalled.
Dion said Schroeder was always first to arrive at church. On Saturday, Schroeder’s pew remained vacant. “He came to church every single Sunday. He drove himself to church until six weeks ago. He sat in the back pew,” she said.
After Schroeder’s wife passed, he lived independently and drove himself around. He loved people, baseball, McDonald’s and above all, his faith in God.
To 12-year-old Ally Silveira, Schroeder was like a grandfather.
She and her mother met him four years ago at a 99 restaurant. “I just saw him there and he was all alone and just kept staring at him and he stared back,” Ally said.
The two shared a special bond and Schroeder was invited to their house during the holidays ever since.
“He started coming to all of our family events and it was a beautiful friendship,” Ally said. “Just means a lot that we were a part of his life, he touched ours too.”