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Water Law Stories

As William F. Schroeder Remembers

Stories from a Western Rural Law Practice


William F. “Bill” Schroeder

It is with deep sadness that Laura Schroeder and her family announce the passing of her father, William “Bill” Schroeder on Tuesday October 20, 2015 at the age of 87.

Bill was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, attorney, mentor, advocate of people, and friend to many. Admitted to the Oregon State Bar in 1951 at the age of 20, he enjoyed a long and successful legal career as a litigator and advocate for the wise use of natural resources.

Bill is survived by his wife of 65 years, Alberta Wienhorst Schroeder, children Laura (Scott Borison) Paul (Suzanne), John (Margaret), Katherine (Tom Gustafson), Alan (Diane) and Sara (Kevin Votava); and 14 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. He will be very missed by all who knew him.

His funeral was at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Boise, ID at 2 pm on Saturday, October 24, 2015. The family requests donations to the Immanuel Lutheran Church Organ Fund.

About Bill Schroeder

Bill received the Society for Range Management’s Outstanding Achievement Award at its 2012 Annual Meeting in Spokane, Washington. The Society said this:

William Schroeder was born and raised in suburban Chicago. In mid-1949, at 20 years of age, he had already graduated from University of Chicago and earned his law degree from Valparaiso University School of Law. He then set out to be a “resident by choice” of a small cow-town, Vale, Oregon. Bill wanted to put into action his ideal and commitment that the law was intended and remains to be, the great equalizer, limiting the mischief that those in power can do and allowing those with simple virtues of the West to survive.

Bill is an attorney and legal expert on issues regarding public land. His writings and speaking engagements before SRM and others have spanned more than half a century and have been published throughout the Western U.S, Bill has been sought after for his expertise and insight as to the role and scope of administrative governmental agencies and/or the interpretation and application of various federal laws affecting the range like the Taylor Grazing Act, the Federal Land Policy & Management Act, the Public Rangelands Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act.

Bill’s insistence on objective range monitoring and reasonable range management both in and out of the courtroom earned him the moniker of “Schroeder the Shredder’. As one Oregon Circuit Judge put it after knowing Bill as a mentor, trial opponent, co-counsel and litigant, “His contributions [to judges, lawyers and the community at large] are unsurpassed by anyone else of my acquaintance.”

Laura Schroeder had this to say in an article published in the Spring, 2012, issue of Range Magazine

The Oregon Water Frontier – 1954: “Water’s for Fighting”

      In which a roll in the ditch, medical bills, the Oregon Supreme Court, and surprise testimony determine a water case.

Ka Neeta and the Towers

      Wherein Federal Court convenes in the Tribal Council Room at Ka-Neeta resort to determine suitable compensation to a landowner for power lines sited through his ranch.

The Trees and the Birds

      Two birds and a failed injunction hold up construction on an 80-acre site.

The Expert Witnesses at Burgdorf

      The Man in the White Hat says: tell the truth and tell it truthfully. And, how old are you?

Two Very Big Men

      Where a punch in the jaw teaches forgiveness.

Value of a Lawyer in the High Desert

      Where, in 1949, it is found that a dead lawyer is worth $1,500.

A Story About a Friend: Western Range Service and Al Steninger

      Where the Western Range Service turns 45.

When to Fold ‘Em

      Where some problems just take care of themselves.


Mentor, Partner, Family

With my dad’s passing in October of last year (William F. Schroeder, 10/20/15), there will be no more “stories” sadly, except what we might remember and share. My attorney brother John T. Schroeder forwarded me a couple of articles about my father’s first attorney mentor and partner, Robert D. Lytle, and his wife, Jo. My doctor brother Paul, John, and I remember spending many hours at the office with Mr. Lytle or playing in the library while waiting for dad as well as many holidays enjoying the elegant hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Lytle, who readily adopted us as their sometimes grandchildren.