BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Editor
In the final hours of her life, Andrea Schroeder said she wanted to be remembered as “an ordinary person who had an extraordinary life.”
Andrea Kathleen Schroeder (née MacIntosh) passed away last Friday, October 1, at the age of 57.
She had been serving as the Michigan state representative for the 43rd District, which included the communities of Clarkston, Clintonville, Independence Township, Lake Angelus, and Waterford Township.
As tributes which poured in just hours after she passed made clear, Schroeder was anything but ordinary. She was honorable, honest, funny, genuine, insightful, pragmatic, stubborn, fiercely passionate, always willing to lend a hand to those in need and a relentless crusader for the underdog. She harnessed her talents to better the lives of others and impacted more lives than she will ever know.
A warrior to the very end, Schroeder battled her rare form of stomach cancer with grit, determination, grace, and her trademark humor. She was an inspiration and the embodiment of courage.
“I will miss Andrea,” Clarkston Mayor Eric Haven said. “She was an effective legislator, a woman with great fortitude. She will be missed greatly by me and many others.”
“The city was very saddened to learn of the passing of Representative Schroeder,” added Clarkston City Manager Jonathan Smith. “Andrea set an example for legislators, working energetically for Clarkston and all of her constituents, regardless of political alignment. Our condolences to Andrea’s family. She will be sorely missed.”
Schroeder is survived by her steadfast wingman, husband of 30 years and the love of her life, Mark, whom she met on a blind date, their children, Maggie (fiancé William Banks), Luke and Grace, and their nine-year-old ‘puppy,’ Boo, all of whom she loved ferociously and were the center of her enormous heart.
She also leaves behind her parents, Dr. Robert Bruce and Martha MacIntosh, siblings Jack, Jeane (Tom Parker) and Katie (Dylan Brown), sisters-in-law Nancy, Diane (Matt Downey) and Cathy (Rick Arndt), and her godparents, Dr. John and Yvonne Meara. She was Aunt Andy to Allison, Erin, Molly and Cameron MacIntosh, Kate Parker and Scotland Brown, and considered them almost as brilliant and talented as her own kids.
Schroeder was preceded in death by her in-laws, Dr. Ray and Joan Schroeder.
Born in Detroit, Andrea grew up in Farmington Hills, graduating from Farmington High School in 1982 and Miami (Ohio) University in 1986. She went on to become a teacher, businesswoman, entrepreneur, and longtime civic leader.
She was universally known for her quick, wry wit, razor-sharp sense of humor and an innate klutziness that provided endless laughs. She loved classic films and daylong binges of what her family called “Mom’s grey movies.” She spontaneously belted out showtunes in supermarket lines and legislative meetings. She loved Jimmy Stewart, 1970s pop and 1990s country, beer and coney dogs and had a lifelong obsession with the British royal family. An adventuress and avid traveler – albeit with a pathological fear of driving across bridges – Schroeder fulfilled her goal of visiting all 50 states by her 50th birthday.
To her family, Schroeder was both the “fun mom” – loading everyone into the car on a whim at dawn to swim in each of the five Great Lakes by sunset – and strict disciplinarian, regularly and proudly grounding all three kids because “I warned them.”
Schroeder loved her state, especially Northern Michigan and the city of Detroit, of which she could give a more comprehensive tour than any professional.
She was genuinely committed to Clarkston, Independence Township, and her larger local community. Serving as a state representative – and as Michigan’s first female Majority Whip in decades – was the honor of her life and she worked tirelessly and across party lines for her constituents. Of her many bills that became law, Schroeder was most proud of “Save Our Students,” requiring Michigan schools to include suicide hotline information on student IDs.
“Rep. Schroeder will be remembered for her relentless dedication to the people she represented,” noted Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “My heart goes out to her husband and three children and all those who knew her as they grieve during this difficult time.”
“A great trustee, a great state rep, and a great friend,” said recently retired Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle. “Andrea will be missed by many.”
The Schroeder-MacIntosh family is profoundly grateful to Dr. Philip Philip and Dr. Steve Kim, who gave Andrea hope and a lifeline where others saw none, and to the compassionate Detroit Karmanos Cancer Institute nurses and hospital team.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks you live like Andrea: take chances, be a mentor, thank a teacher, give back to your community, right a wrong, swim in all the lakes, visit all the states, laugh until your sides hurt and tears stream down your face, always chose Lafayette Coney Island over American, Go Green! Go White! and pray for the Detroit Tigers. Most importantly: Make a difference. Be extraordinary.
“Rep. Schroeder was the epitome of a true fighter,” said Andrew Schepers, government relations director in Michigan for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “Her journey to Lansing and her journey with cancer started at the same time. While running for the Michigan House, Andrea was undergoing treatment for stomach cancer. She continued to work hard for those in the 43rd District while undergoing treatment for a reoccurrence of her cancer. She was the truest example of a servant leader in Michigan.”
“When we were all worried about her health and her comfort, she was more concerned about helping the people she represented who had called into the office, finding out what was going on in each of our lives, sharing the latest news about her children, working with the close staff for whom she cared so much, and helping everyone around her succeed with their own personal priorities,” added Speaker of the House Jason Wentworth. “That’s who she was as a person right from the start, and that is exactly how I will remember her.”
Contributions can be made in Andrea’s name to Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute “Cancer Research Fund” (c/o Contributions – VE01FS, 4100 John R, Detroit, MI 48201) and the Optimist Club Foundation of Clarkston (PO Box 891, Clarkston, MI 48347) where Andrea’s family will establish a student scholarship in her name.
Visitation is this Sunday, October 10, from 3-9 p.m. at Coats Funeral Home, 8909 Dixie Highway, Clarkston. Funeral mass is Tuesday, October 12, at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church, 5481 Dixie Highway, Waterford Township.