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Gordon R. Schroeder, 92, was one of Buffalo's 'five baker brothers'

Feb. 15, 1926 – Feb. 1, 2019

You could say that Gordon R. Schroeder was born to bake.

The oldest son of Rudolph Schroeder, who founded his bakery in 1928, Gordon Schroeder went to college in Cortland to become a physical education teacher, and worked in a school for one year.

But the appeal of the family business was too strong. "I think he did it for the family, because my grandfather needed help," said Mr. Schroeder's daughter, Kathleen Harris.

When the youngest of his four brothers joined the bakery in 1958, the sweet situation drew the attention of Hubert Holloway, who wrote a "Notes and Quotes" column for the Buffalo Evening News.

"While it is not unusual to see Buffalo sons follow in their father's footsteps, there must be some sort of record in the five brothers who assist their father at the Schroeder Baker, 212 Forest Ave.," he wrote. "They are known as the five baker brothers."

Mr. Schroeder, 92, of Getzville, died Feb. 1, 2019, after a short stay in the Schofield Residence in the Town of Tonawanda.

He was born in Buffalo, the first child of Rudolph Sr. and Caroline Haag Schroeder. His siblings were Donald, James, Rudolph Jr., Robert and Carole. The family lived upstairs over the bakery.

"They all baked, at one time or another," said Kathleen Harris.

He attended McKinley High School and shortly after turning 17 in February 1943, Mr. Schroeder joined the Marine Corps. His postings in the Pacific theater included the New Hebrides, St. Matthias Islands, Mindanao, the Philippines and the Northern Solomon Islands. He was discharged on Dec. 18, 1945, with the rank of private first class.

As a young man, Mr. Schroeder was an accomplished bowler. It was on the lanes that he met Betty McKinstry, who would become his wife in 1954 in Buffalo. They raised their five children on East Hazeltine Avenue in Kenmore.

After Mr. Schroeder's father, Rudolph Schroeder Sr., died on Jan. 20, 1961, the brothers became partners in owning and operating the bakery on Forest Avenue. They renamed it Schroeder's Cosmopolitan Bakery and began to expand. At its height, the business had stores on Elmwood Avenue in North Buffalo, in Kenmore, at Transit Road and Main Street in Clarence, and at Eggert Road and Sheridan Drive in Tonawanda.

The bakeries were known for their decorated cakes, Christmas fruitcakes, fruit coffee cakes, doughnuts, bread and rolls, Kathleen Harris said.

In 1988, at age 62, Mr. Schroeder discovered that he had a knack for sales. In that role for the bakeries, he was very successful, his family said. "He liked talking to people, and people liked him," his daughter said.

In 2006, the family sold the stores and Mr. Schroeder retired. He continued to bake, turning out cookies and cakes as gifts for relatives and friends."For many years, he would make my sister and me cookie dough for part of our Christmas present," said Kathleen Harris. The sisters then finished and baked the cookies for their families to enjoy.

In retirement, Mr. Schroeder also enjoyed woodworking, many examples of which furnished the longtime family cottage at Silver Lake, near Warsaw. A grandfather clock owned by his daughter is among the many items he made for relatives.

At the cottage, he enjoyed teaching his grandchildren how to fish and water ski.

After 54 years of marriage, Mrs. Schroeder died on May 5, 2007.

Besides his daughter Kathleen Harris, Mr. Schroeder is survived by another daughter, Jamie Handel; three sons, Gary, Thomas and Daniel Schroeder; a brother, James Schroeder; a sister, Carole Golebiewski; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A funeral was held Feb. 6 with Marine Corps honors.

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