Annegret (Schroeder) Williams Obituary

After an incredible life that began in war-torn East Germany and ended in Southwest Michigan, Annegret “Anne” (Schroeder) Williams passed away unexpectedly on April 23, 2021. Born on December 30, 1942 in Schwerin, Germany, to Fredrich and Emilie Schroeder, early photos of Anne reveal a sweet, little blonde with a smile on her face and a doll in her arms.

In 1949, as communists took over her homeland in the northern province of Mecklenburg, Anne and her family survived a harrowing escape in the middle of the night to West Germany. A few years later her family was able to board the Noordam Holland passenger ship in Rotterdam for a ten-day trip to New York where they then took a train to meet relatives waiting for them in Niles, Michigan.

Thanks to her parent’s hard work and perseverance, they were all able to become official U.S. Citizens in 1958. After graduating from Benton Harbor High School in 1961 as a member of the National Honor Society, Anne turned down a full scholarship to attend Lake Michigan College to work as a Whirlpool secretary for Steve Upton.

Anne married her high school sweetheart, Dave Williams, in 1963 and together they raised three rowdy boys who all attended Lakeshore High School. Once her kids were old enough, Anne was able to put her knack for travel to good use and became a travel agent. She later owned FamFacts, a publication for travel agents. She travelled the globe extensively but especially loved organizing annual spa trips to Hungary and touring New Zealand and Tahiti with her husband.

In November of 1989, when the Berlin Wall opened and the people of East Germany were liberated, Anne was elated to be featured in The Herald Palladium, retelling the story of the night she was smuggled across the border at the tender age of seven.

Anne was a dedicated mother and “Oma” to her family and treasured time outdoors, enjoying the beaches and Lake Michigan. She looked forward to spring and tending to the many flowers that bloomed in her garden. She was an avid golfer and fisherman and couldn’t wait to spend the weekend at their camper on Hemlock Lake each summer. She will be remembered for her sense of adventure, her skill at poker playing, and her uncanny ability to fix just about anything.

Anne is survived by her husband, Dave Williams, her sons David Williams and Marc (Dawn) Williams of St. Joseph, and Michael (Meara) Williams of Petaluma, California; her grandchildren Briar (Ryan) Radtke of Seattle, Danielle and Ben Williams, and Owen Williams of Petaluma, California; and her great grandchildren, Leo and Bowie Radtke; and her brother Hans (Susie) Schroeder of St. Joseph.

Anne is preceded in death by her parents, her sisters Ava Hoffman and Brigitte Keissling, and her brother Fritz Schroeder.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 2:00 P.M., Saturday, May 1, 2021 at Starks & Menchinger Chapel, 2650 Niles Road, St. Joseph, MI. Friends may visit with the family from 12:00 P.M. until time of service at the funeral home. Memorial donations may be made to First Church of God in Anne’s name. Those wishing to send an online condolence may do so at Arrangements have been entrusted to Starks & Menchinger Chapel and Cremation Services, 269-556-9450. 

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