Laughingly he recalled how when his family moved to the Rocky Ford
area, he was one of two first-graders at Briggs School. The class
grew, though, and by the time he graduated from the grammar school,
there were seven in his graduating class. The school is gone now,
used one year by area firefighters as a practice fire. It is obvious
by Wayne's tone he has never been fond of that final use of his old
Wayne met his wife of 53 years, Marlene, at the old Rec Center,
when it was located off the square: "Marlene asked me if I would
dance with her, and I said, ‘Sure.' Later she asked me to dance
again." Wayne ended up taking Marlene to her prom at Beason High
School, and they began dating. When Schrader was about to enter the
Army in 1952, he gave his future wife an engagement ring but said he
wanted to wait until after he came back before he would marry her.
The Korean War was in full swing, and Wayne didn't know for sure
if he would ever come home at all.
Wayne did come home, and the couple were married on Jan. 9, 1955.
The lifelong commitment to each other yielded two sons, David Wayne
and Randall Scott, and three grandsons. "Still no girls for
Marlene," Schrader related.
Wayne had many jobs in those early days as the young couple began
their lives together. He was a shoe salesman at $40 a week, worked
in a grocery, for the United Way, and he was a debit agent for an
insurance company. Eventually, he found his career working for the
area utility company that has had many names through the years but
is now known as AmerenCILCO.
Although it took Schrader a while to find his career, it took no
time at all to find his lifelong commitment to the American Legion.
"The day after I came home from the service, my brother Jim took me
out to the Legion and signed me up," Schrader said. More than 50
years have passed since that day, but Wayne and Marlene are still
very active in the American Legion.
It is obvious when Schrader talks about the Legion that he
doesn't consider it just an organization that a person joins and
then attends a few meetings. Schrader is an emotional man, and in
his eyes you can see the love he has for the organization. It is a
part of him more than just a part of his life.
Over the years, Wayne has been the American Legion's county
commander, district commander and division commander. He also has
been the post's finance chairman, finance officer and served on
their building committee. The year he was post commander, Marlene
was president of the Legion Auxiliary. "It's been important that
both of us have been involved with the Legion," Schrader explained.
That way, the two of them have been able to have a time-consuming
passion outside of home but still be together all these years.
Schrader has been active in the Legion all the way through the
national organization over the years, and that has allowed him to be
an expert on what the American Legion is about and what it does. "A
lot of members (meaning locally) don't realize all that the Legion
does," he stated.
Wayne knows, and he is very proud to be a part of it all. And he
is able to tell instantly what program collected how much for whom
and what their next year's goals are. Wayne had to smile when he was
asked what his current role in the Legion is. "I'm the district
chaplain right now," he answered with a grin.
For more than a decade Schrader has been the organizer of the two
community programs honoring veterans: one on Memorial Day, the other
on Veterans Day. He said that all area veterans' groups, including
AMVETS and the VFW, are actively involved in both ceremonies.
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He also is on the Legion's burial detail, which offers the families
of deceased veterans in the area to have a color guard and firing
squad at their loved one's burial. "We were in Springfield at a
burial, and when it was over we were told there was another
veteran's ceremony later and that they didn't have an honor guard,
so we stayed," he said.
For the last 15 years, Schrader has been the front man for the
Legion for their recognition of students throughout the area. He
goes to schools to bestow Legion awards on students and had a tone
of regret in his voice that he had to have someone else do the
honors at a school last year because he was at another school at the
The Legion's student scholarship programs are near and dear to
Wayne, and he said that the local American Legion compiles a book of
all available scholarships and donates it to the Lincoln Public
Library and the high school. It might be the best gathering of
scholarship information there is in the country. He noted, "The
reason the Legion was founded was to help disabled veterans, and the
children and spouses of deceased veterans." Thus, helping children
of veterans to be able to afford college is important to him.
Schrader has also been involved with another local organization
that is dedicated to youth, the Lincoln Kiwanis. Like with the
Legion, Schrader isn't just a member, being the vice president,
president and now the secretary for the club in his 25 years with
the organization. Kiwanis also offers scholarships and bestows other
types of grants to area youth, which fits well into Wayne's model of
what he wants to be involved with.
Schrader has but one regret with either service organization. He
laughingly lamented his constant roll as a Kiwanian. "Every time we
have a fundraiser, I always get kitchen duty," he said. "Just once I
would like to not have to wash all the dishes."
With the Legion, his one regret is the terrible fire that ravaged
the old Legion building in January of 2002. "We lost so much during
that fire," he said. "Records, memorabilia, pictures; it was one of
the saddest days of my life."
Schrader was able to save some items before fire officials banned
him from going into the building, but a great deal was irreplaceably
lost. Again, in his eyes you could see that all that was lost still
Wayne and Marlene, with all their activities in the Legion, still
have a few hobbies. One is a salt-and-pepper collection that
actually fills all the walls and tables of a room in their basement.
Wayne also has a room for American Legion memorabilia that he has
collected over the years.
"It probably isn't worth a lot of money, but it's all important
to me," he said.
Perhaps not quite as important as Wayne is to his beloved