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Community remembers American Quilter's Society co-founder Bill Schroeder

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PADUCAH, Ky -

People across the Local 6 area are mourning the loss of a major figure in Paducah. American Quilter's Society co-founder Bill Schroeder passed away Saturday night at the age of 85.

Throughout quilt city, you can see the marks of Schroeder and his wife, Meredith.

"For the 12 years I was mayor of Paducah, Bill was a wonderful supporter and a wonderful friend," said Former Paducah Mayor Bill Paxton.

Paxton remembers Schroeder as a wonderful friend and an honest one.

"He said one time, 'You're not always right, mayor,' and I said 'You're right. I'm not,'" Paxton said.

The husband and wife team founded the American Quilter's Society in 1984. Last month, AQS QuiltWeek Director Bonnie Browning told us she remembered the chance the couple took when with the first quilt show. 

"Bill and Meredith have been lovers of quilts from the very beginning, and they started this show not knowing whether or not it would work in Paducah,"  Browning said.  

Schroeder's efforts went beyond quilt week, the National Quilt Museum — which he and his wife created — and the monuments you see outside.

"You just go anywhere, you're going to go and see Bill Schroeder had a big part to play," Paxton said.

The iconic Paducah floodwall murals are another of Schroeder's many efforts. In 2016, the Paducah's expo center was dedicated to the Schroeders. They were also original donors to the Carson Center. 

The Schroeders supported education as well, making a donation to the Paducah School of  Art and Design, and creating a scholarship fund at the community college.

"It would be a different place, it would be not as vibrant," Paxton said. 

The community remembers Schroeder as a major force that shaped the city with his wife, and as a good friend to many.

"I always knew if I needed anything — if I need any help, if I need any advice — I can come to him, and he would help," Paxton said.

Services are scheduled for Tuesday at Heartland Worship Center. Visitation will be from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The funeral service is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

Many other people are remembering Schroeder for his impact on the community. 

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

"Kentucky's cultural heritage suffered a great loss with the passing of William "Bill" Schroeder on Saturday.  Along with his wife, Meredith, Bill brought national attention to quilters and their work.  The American Quilter's Society and the National Quilt Museum have made Paducah an epicenter of creativity and design, and his work will leave an enduring legacy.  Elaine and I send our condolences to Meredith, Bill's family, and friends."   

Ro Morse, who has beem the project coordinator for Paducah's Wall to Wall mural project since 1995:

"When I try to think of ALL the people whose lives Bill Schroeder has changed for the better - I am astounded. The impact of his and Meredith's generosity and devotion to our community is countless. He was instrumental in getting Robert Dafford to come to Paducah and paint Paducah's history on our Floodwall in 1995 and has been actively supporting the project since then-his insistence on maintaining the integrity of the images from day one through the ongoing maintenance has been paramount. We intend to honor his vision by maintaining this magnificent art/history attraction. Our gratitude and prayers are with Meredith and the Schroeder family in this time of loss. Paducah is a much better place thanks to Bill and his family. This was Bill's life philosophy "Unshared good fortune leaves life empty." Bill had a FULL life. 

Over the phone on Monday, Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham:

"We've lost one of those community giants that when you lose them, you don't know what you're going to do, how you're going to keep moving forward. He was such a force. He was very loyal to Paducah. He could have taken the  quilt show anywhere, but he kept it here. He was a genuine, special kind of person."

West Kentucky Community and Technical College President Anton Reece:

"Bill and Meredith Schroeder have long been friends and supporters of West Kentucky Community and Technical College and our foundation. Bill's philanthropic activities were special to the college and the community, and have provided vital educational opportunities and access for students. Bill was an extremely fascinating man, a truly dedicated community leader whose vision changed this region and this state. My heart goes out to his family and friends. He will certainly be missed."  

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