The La Crosse Public Education Foundation on Thursday announced a gift of more than $170,000 from the estate of La Crosse native Barbara Schroeder.
It was the largest-ever estate gift to the foundation, according to foundation executive director David Stoeffler.
A 1968 Central High School graduate, Schroeder attended UW-La Crosse and worked for several local organizations, including 15 years at Viterbo University, where she coordinated the tutoring program and worked in the Academic Resource Center until her retirement in November 2013.
Friends described her as funny, a jokester who loved travel, reading, birdwatching and railroads.
“She was full of life and she was joyous,” said longtime friend Mary Lund. She was the kind of person who liked “making someone’s life better when they least expected it.
“Nothing made her happier than to help a student who needed a hug … (or someone who needed) to believe that somebody cared,” Lund said.
While the bequest came without specific direction, the board of directors of the La Crosse Public Education Foundation chose to deposit the money in an agency fund and use proceeds annually to support LPEF’s mission, which is to “enhance learning opportunities for students in the School District of La Crosse” and promote community understanding and support for public education.
In 2015, LPEF expects to provide more than $150,000 in support to district schools, through classroom grants, support for staff development, and programs to meet needs of individual students and help them overcome barriers to success, including poverty-related issues.
“Barbara may have preferred to avoid the spotlight, but she deserves credit for a gift that will have a lasting impact on La Crosse public schools,” Stoeffler said.