Charles Arthur Schroeder

Remembering Charles Arthur Schroeder

Charles Arthur Schroeder, professor emeritus of organismic biology, ecology, and evolution at UCLA, died on January 15, 2001.

Art Schroeder was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on January 25, 1913. He moved to Los Angeles in 1923, where he attended Fremont High School. There he was inspired by his horticulture teacher, J.W. Lukon, to further his education in the field of plant science. Pursuant to that dream, after he graduated in 1931 Art attended UCLA, receiving his B.A. in 1934 and his M.A. in botany in 1935 (his website and UCLA Today say 1935 and ’36).

After working briefly at Rancho Sespe, a large citrus ranch, Art returned to UCLA in 1938 to work on a Ph.D. in subtropical horticulture. The subject of his doctoral dissertation was the anatomy of the avocado fruit. A week before the graduation ceremonies, on June 6, 1943, he married Mary Elizabeth Reynolds, a graduate student in botany. Art received one of the first Ph.D. degrees awarded from UCLA, and Mary obtained her M.A. at the same graduation ceremony.

Dr. Charles A. Schroeder began teaching at UCLA in July 1943. Initially he taught courses in subtropical horticulture and later botany. During his long and productive teaching career, he conducted research on many subtropical and tropical fruits, both at UCLA and abroad. These included avocado, cherimoya, persimmon, loquat, white sapote, kiwi, cacao, peach palm, date, and citrus, among others. He was involved in some of the early exploration for avocado rootstocks in Mexico, Central America, Peru, and Ecuador.

He received a Guggenheim award, which he spent in Costa Rica, and a Fulbright in New Zealand, and over the decades of professional studies was invited to participate in many international meetings in his field. He accepted an FAO assignment in Malawi, another for the United Nations in India on dates, and another in Chile for CORFO. Art traveled widely (54 countries), gave overseas lectures, spent sabbaticals in Costa Rica, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Australia, and worked on cherimoya pollination in Spain. From these studies, he published numerous articles on subtropical and tropical fruits in various scientific journals.

In addition to teaching and research, Art directed the first 16 years of the pioneering Fulbright project at UCLA and other southern California institutions, which continues today. He also spent several years as head of the Study Abroad Program at the University. In 1963 he was named one of six outstanding teachers of the year in the student annual Southern Campus.

Art was a founding member of the UCLA Credit Union, served as chairman of its board for several years, and also served on various faculty committees, including in the Emeriti Association. He belonged to the California Avocado Society and received both their Award of Honor for outstanding meritorious service and another special award for contributions to the society. He was also a member of the board of directors of the California Cherimoya Association, a member of the California Macadamia Society, fruit registrar for the California Rare Fruit Growers, and program chairman for the Los Angeles Chapter, receiving a lifetime award. He contributed many articles and presentations to these organizations and regularly consulted as a technical expert on a variety of topics.

Art retired on June 30, 1983. Even though his travels were curtailed in the last few years, Art maintained worldwide contacts through e-mail and other correspondence and kept busy writing articles. One of his projects was “A History of the College of Agriculture at UCLA,” from its beginning in 1929 until it terminated in 1960. His wife Mary hopes to edit and publish it for him. His hobbies were collecting books on flora and fauna, ethnomusical instruments, and nutcrackers. He was well respected for his enthusiasm in his field, inspiring many students and friends. He was always eager to share findings and listen to the ideas of others. He was a devoted father, not only to his immediate family, but to a large, extended group of loved friends from many parts of the world. His kindness, interest in others, and sense of humor will be remembered by many.