Bound by Books, Stitched Together With Love & Respect

Bill and Meredith Schroeder

Schroeder's

“Their contribution can never be measured, monetary or otherwise. Downtown Paducah wouldn’t be the same without the Schroeders.” —David Long

For two people on a blind date, a vision of the future slowly came into view. When she was 16, Meredith Schroeder met her future husband, Bill. She also met her entrepreneurial match.
Five decades later, the scene which has emerged has been bound by books and stitched together with “trust and respect.”

(Note: their secrets to success at the bottom of this article)

Their corporate success has been largely based on those same philosophies. “Build a good team, treat your employees and customers as you would want to be treated, establish a good relationship with your bank,” says Bill Schroeder, retired businessman and brainchild of Paducah’s Collector Books and the subsequent American Quilter’s Society (AQS), along with his wife of 50 years, of course. In addition, Bill serves on The Paducah Bank and Trust Company’s holding company board of directors, and Meredith serves on the bank’s board of directors.

Meredith’s take on building a successful business and marriage: trust and respect—the very characteristics the Schroeder’s friends and family credit to these two creative minds. “The woman is totally elegant, sophisticated, but very approachable,” says Helen Squire, vice president of sales and marketing at AQS. “While most CEOs are only approached through layers of other people, Meredith’s door is always open.” Meredith often deals with questions and problems “on the fly” in the hallway, says Helen.

his&her

The admiration goes beyond books and quilts, however. Former Paducah mayor, Gerry Montgomery believes the $2 million Museum of the American Quilter’s Society was the cornerstone of the downtown Paducah revitalization. “It made the difference,” she says. Ro Morse, Paducah downtown events coordinator, confirms the concept. “The quilt museum was the cornerstone of the revival of downtown. They {Bill and Meredith} put their money where  their mouths were.” Indeed, and in more ways than one.

First there was the groundbreaking creation of a national quilt museum, lifting a previous eyesore just within the gates of the community’s monumental flood wall to a level of beauty and sophistication few could have imagined. And if that wasn’t enough, a few years later, after having seen hand-wrought murals in the Dutch Indies during one of their many travels, Bill Schroeder invested in and began a quest for contributors to support the magnificent mural art which now graces a long line of formerly colorless concrete. Paducah Bank was one of those early contributors.

The Schroeders were instrumental in realizing state-funding for the recreation of a vibrant downtown. Some years ago Kentucky’s governor said, “You spend one million dollars on downtown Paducah and I’ll spend five million on downtown Paducah.” Done, said Bill Schroeder. They were also involved in the fund-raising and building of the new Community Christian Academy in McCracken County. “I don’t think I could overstate their importance in seeing it built,” adds Ro Morse.

“Their contribution,” says long-time friend and Paducah businessman David Long, “can never be measured, monetary or otherwise. Downtown Paducah wouldn’t be the same without them.”

Neither would spring! In 1984, having visited a highly popular quilt show in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, and having come to the conclusion that creative quilters should be rewarded for their craft, Bill and Meredith engaged the voluntary labor of their three children, gathered around the kitchen table and mailed out invitations to the first annual quilt show in Paducah’s Executive Inn. That was 20 years ago. It brought 5,000 people to the city and the show. This spring, the show will host more than 35,000 visitors and will offer more than $100,000 in prize money.

“The Trinity: Universal Father, Eternal Son, and Infinite Spirit,” by Arturo Alonzo Sandoval of Lexington, KY.

“The Trinity: Universal Father, Eternal Son, and Infinite Spirit,” by Arturo Alonzo Sandoval of Lexington, KY.

“The Schroeders put a value on quilts as art,” says Bonnie Browning, executive director of the annual quilt show. “No one can undervalue the quilt now!”

Bonnie also believes that these are sometimes not the people current times celebrate. “Meredith and Bill come from a culture that believes in community, humility, and accountability,” she adds. “They expect honor and responsibility from themselves and those around them. They have worked hard not just for themselves but for their community. They leave a deep impression on everyone and everything they have touched.”

His & Her Secrets to Success

Hers

Early Attraction:  He was very thoughtful, considerate, and responsible (took charge). That may have caused some problems in later years (ha) but did attract me!

Important Elements of a Good Relationship:  Trust and respect.

Important Elements of a Successful Business:  Trust and respect.

Important Characteristics of a Good Bank:  I may be in a rut, but I think a bank should be responsible, reliable, and professional; thereby it will receive the trust and respect
of its customers.

His

Early Attraction:  She was intelligent, moral, and compatible, and last but not least, darn good looking!

Important Elements of a Good Relationship:  Trust and respect.

Important Elements of a Successful Business:  Build a good team, treat your employees and customers as you would want to be treated, establish a good relationship with your bank.

Important Characteristics of a Good Bank:  A quick, timely decision on loan requests. I like a hometown bank that understands my needs.