Editor’s note: Duane “Dunes” Schroeder died Nov. 30 after battling pancreatic cancer. He wrote this letter to the community before his death, according to his brother, Al Schroeder, who brought the letter to the Sentinel-Press. He asked for it to be printed and shared with the many people who knew and loved Dunes.
I am writing this letter to thank you all for the support you have given me over the years. The communities of Maquoketa, Lost Nation and other nearby towns have provided me with the strength that was needed to fight the cancer that I was diagnosed with over 2 years ago. Without my close friends and family, my life would have been much more difficult.
I can’t begin to thank you all personally — there are too many and I fear leaving someone out. I consider myself blessed to have so many friends that I’ve met along the way. During my 30+ years at the bowling alley, Louie and Jackie and family have adopted me as a member of their family. I can’t thank them enough for welcoming me into their home as well as hiring me to work at the bowling alley where I have such fond memories and met so many wonderful people. The Halloween and Christmas Eve parties were my favorites! I loved the socialization that comes with bartending and cooking. The State Bowling Tournaments were also memorable. Thank you for letting me be a part of all this!
A special thank you also goes to Wendy at RonAnn’s. I begged you to give me a chance and you hired me even though I didn’t have special letters behind my name. I loved watching your business grow and the greenhouse was one of my favorite places to be. I met so many very special customers that trusted me to arrange their flowers or suggest which flowers to plant. I was honored to be trusted by brides for their wedding flowers and by those in mourning that asked me to develop the perfect arrangement for their loved one’s funeral. The staff there all mothered me and saw to it that I was taken care of in so many ways. Thanks for being patient with me and my philosophy of “you have to sell them the air.” I love flowers and loved being able to be around them!
My two years with the Master Gardeners has also been a wonderful time for me. I learned so much from you all and hope that maybe I taught you a thing or two myself. I feel a special closeness to the classmates that I studied with and am proud that we all became Master Gardeners together. Other organizations that supported me and allowed me to be a part of their wonderful groups were the Fair Board Association, the Lutheran Church, and Pastor Jeff at the Methodist Church. I enjoyed my time working at the Drive-In and meeting so many people from other towns. Little kids used to ask me if I lived in the little ticket-taking shed! I enjoyed being with you all. Your support was tremendous.
I would like to thank the community for the awesome benefit that was held for me. Those that arranged it and those who came and supported me there helped me in ways that I cannot describe. I attempted to shake everyone’s hands or acknowledge you all in some way — I am very sorry if I missed you. This benefit allowed me to not worry about financial stressors. It allowed me to LIVE and not worry. I was worn out at the end of the busy two days of the benefit, but I left with such a warm heart knowing that so many people cared about me.
The town of Lost Nation also supported me in ways I cannot explain. Lost Nation is where my roots are. I grew up there and everyone knows everyone and we all help each other out. Words themselves cannot express the feelings I have for you all.
Finally, when it came time for me to decide that there were no more treatment options available to me, I turned to Hospice of Jackson County. The support that they have given me and my whole family is indescribable. They have touched my life in ways that I didn’t know anyone could. They helped me keep living and doing the things that I wanted to do.
Those that know me well, know that I’m a big fan of the “Wizard of Oz.” Well, I’m heading over the rainbow now. Please remember our time together, and I hope I have left you with happy memories.
Keep Smiling …….. Keep on Smiling!!