Mardell Koop Schumacher ’54
I am a first-generation collegian. My parents and grandparents didn’t have that opportunity. My dad was 3 when he came to this country from the Netherlands by ship. His father was a carpenter, and he built a house for their family of four when they came to Chicago. Two more children joined the family.
I can remember my father always referring to himself as an American, never as a Dutchman. At age 17 he dropped out of school to enlist in the Marines during World War I. He was sent to Europe where he fought with the Allies in France. Upon his return to America, he went back to night school, graduated, and became a stockbroker. The crash of ’29 came, and he was out of work. He took a job with the Federal Reserve Bank and worked there for the rest of his life, over 40 years, and never missed a day’s work.
College was not in the picture for him, but his hard work, loyalty, strong code of ethics, and natural ability drove him into the right path for success in life.
My mother was the oldest of three children. Her parents married when they were in their middle teens, started a dairy business, and rose in the wee hours of the morning to deliver milk to their customers. The business thrived. After some years, the Christiansen Brothers Dairy Co. was sold to Borden’s and my grandfather was made vice president of personnel for Borden’s. When he died at age 56, my grandmother moved in with us, my mother left a job as an executive secretary for a large charity and took care of her mother for all her adult life. I remember my mom as a loving and pleasant person who was always helping someone else with their problems.
My life was very happy with my mom, dad, brother, and grandmother. Our house was very organized, and everyone worked very hard at whatever their job was. Mine was to be as good a student as I could be. That didn’t mean I was supposed to be the best, but I was supposed to do my best. My goal was to get a scholarship so I could attend a four-year college. I succeeded in getting a couple of scholarships, including one from Cornell College where I also worked for the dietician and waited tables for the kitchen help. My job at Cornell was one of the best experiences I had while I was there, and the bonus was that most of the kitchen help were members of the wrestling team. How great was that!
My roommates were wonderful, and I’m still close friends with two of them, Patricia Riley Irwin ’54 and Lois Fear Brossart ’55, even though they live in Colorado and California and I’m still in the Chicago area where I settled with my husband and two children.