Pilot Point man hits 100 years old
By Abigail Allen
Marvin Schroeder holds a century of memories in his head.
The Pilot Point man who celebrated his 100th birthday on Sunday started out as a farm boy from Gunter.
"When I was about 8 years old, we [were] all playing, 'I'm gonna live so long,'" Marvin said. "'I'm gonna live so many years.' I said, 'I'm going to live to 100.' And here I am."
Marvin's mother took care of her six boys and one girl, and Marvin described her as "the best woman that you ever saw."
"All my life, I never heard that woman say anything out of the way," he said. "She used to tell us kids, 'If you can't say something good about somebody, don't say nothing at all.'"
He saw his dad as a more of a cautionary tale for how not to raise his own children.
Marvin served in the U.S. military for 20 years, entering the service in 1942 and served in the Pacific during World War II, first in New Guinea and then in The Philippines.
After the war ended, Marvin came back to the states.
While he was living in Fort Worth, Marvin found a partner for life in Pauline Christine Pelzel on the dance floor of a Bohemian dance hall.
"I got her in a Paul Jones dance," he said.
He asked her for a date when they got paired up twice on the dance floor that night.
Pauline thought Marvin was cute at the dance, she said, but she didn't say yes to a date the first time he asked.
"I sent him home," she said.
The second time, though, he got a yes.
The announcement about their Dec. 27, 1949, wedding ran on the front page of the Dec. 8, 1949, Post-Signal.
"Mr. and Mrs. Frank Pelzel, Jr., of Pilot Point announce the engagement and approaching marriage of their daughter, Miss Pauline Pelzel, to Sgt. Marvin Schroeder of Fort Worth, Tuesday, Dec. 27, … at St. Thomas Catholic Church," the article reads.
They had a supper and dance on their wedding day.
The only reason the two have ever gotten crosswise, Marvin said, was if he was being harsh to their sons.
"We've never had any trouble," he said. "Only thing that we would fuss over sometimes was the kids. I wouldn't let them get by with [anything]."
The two had five boys—Michael, Louis Dewayne, Dennis, Roger and James. Four of them lived to adulthood, but they lost Louis Dewayne when he was only hours old.
"We lost him as a little baby," Marvin said. "He lived about eight hours."
Their youngest, James, died in 2020.
Their life as a young family wasn't always easy, and Marvin's years in the service took him to England after a stint of bases in the U.S.
When Marvin was sent to the islands in the Azores archipelago, he had to leave Pauline and the boys back in the states.
While flipping through a book of old photographs and memories on Tuesday afternoon, Marvin talked about the time he spent near a water tower at the top of one of those islands.
"That was the hardest thing in the world," he said. "I'd go up there on that hill, and every time one of the planes came in, when it left, I wished I was on it."
Marvin spent the end of his military career back in Waco. When he was honorably discharged from the military, Marvin looked for work in Pilot Point, and the options were slim.
He and Pauline went to work down the street at the women's clothing factory, the Russell-Newman Manufacturing Company, with Pauline sewing and Marvin cleaning up the workshop.
"There wasn't any jobs hardly then," he said. "So, a janitor job opened down here, and I took the janitor job."
Since his retirement a few months shy of retirement age, which he kicks himself for, Marvin has stayed active.
"I've been active all my life," Marvin said. "I've had open heart surgery, and I have a pacemaker, but I've been active all my life. Always moving."
A few years ago, a stroke set him back on being as independent and adventurous as he had been all of his life, and his wife's diagnosis with Alzheimer's Disease has also hampered their ability to be on the go.
Now, Marvin gets his exercise in by going on walks and riding his stationary bike every day unless appointments interfere.
Marvin said he's tried to be a good man and to live a good life, and he and Pauline worked hard to provide for their boys.
"Everything I got, everything I always had is paid for, and I did it on minimum wage," he said.