This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002
Charles George Schroder (1893-1962), water-board official, was born on 26 March 1893 at Fernmount, New South Wales, son of Carl Hammer Schroder, a Danish-born engineer, and his Scottish wife Barbara McKay, née Donald. Carl was a dredge-master who worked in the Northern Rivers region. In 1903 the family moved from Bellingen to Newcastle where Charles attended Wickham Superior Public School. After being briefly employed by Carrington Municipal Council, he joined the Hunter District Water Supply and Sewerage Board as a junior clerk in 1909.
On 9 June 1915 Schroder enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Landing at Gallipoli, he served with the 3rd Battalion (September-October) and at Anzac Corps headquarters. In 1916-18 he performed staff duties at the headquarters of II Anzac (later XXII) Corps on the Western Front. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (January 1917), promoted warrant officer, class one (December), and mentioned in dispatches (1918). For his work with the French Fifth Army in the 2nd battle of the Marne (July-August 1918), he won the Croix de Guerre (1919). Returning to Newcastle, he was discharged from the A.I.F. on 6 June 1919. At the Methodist Church, Mayfield, on 20 November 1920 he married Ella Elizabeth Gilbert.
Qualifying for membership of both the Federal Institute of Accountants and the Australasian Institute of Secretaries, Schroder became the water board's principal bookkeeper (1924), accountant (1934) and secretary (1936), and was responsible for mechanizing its accounting procedures. His 'confidence and determination' convinced the board in 1938 to proceed with a three-year programme costing £2.33 million: the plan envisaged the extension of water mains and sewerage services to outlying areas, and the building of large trunk mains to meet future demand. On 7 December 1938 Schroder took office as president of the reconstituted Hunter District Water Board. His appointment, initially for seven years, was to be renewed in 1945 and again in 1952.
Schroder vigorously supported the construction of the Tomago Sandbeds Water Supply Works, which was completed in 1944. During World War II he served on the State War Effort Co-ordination Committee and as chief executive officer of the Northern District Co-ordination Control. He later belonged to the Newcastle Regional Development Committee. Following three years of poor health, he retired in March 1953, lauded for his 'ability, drive and capacity for work'. A newspaper columnist said that, by industry and private study, he had 'fitted himself for one upward step after another until he reached the top'.
Living at Toronto, on Lake Macquarie, Schroder enjoyed fishing and sailing. Photographs reveal a bespectacled man with close-cropped hair and a face filled with character. Survived by his wife and their three sons, he died of cancer on 22 November 1962 at Toronto and was cremated with Presbyterian forms. His successor Frank Finnan said that he left 'a monument of service behind him'. A reserve at Waratah and a pumping station at the Grahamstown reservoir were named after Schroder.
Margaret Steinberger, 'Schroder, Charles George (1893–1962)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/schroder-charles-george-11636/text20785, published in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 31 October 2014.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002