Community supported cancer victim through the end: Fund-raisers assist her two daughters
Julie Schroeder-Ducker left this world last week, along with a community that proved its love for her.
A South Shore resident for 10 years, many knew her from working at Scotty’s Hardware at the “Y.” She was just 37 years old when she died of breast cancer.
“She was just too young,” said Scotty’s manager Robert Cosmi. “It’s tough because we’ve lost too many people here. Julie was a sweetheart. What she went through … She was a very strong lady.”
Cruelly, Schroeder-Ducker’s cancer returned after she had undergone apparently successful treatments at U.C. Davis. She lost her hair but thought she had beaten the disease, with support from family and friends, including Sooze D’Aintree.
“She showed up at my door one day and told me she had cancer, and we were inseparable ever since,” D’Aintree said.
The two previously had been close friends when their sets of children were younger. Schroeder-Ducker, left behind daughters Elise, 5, and Kiri, 4, along with husband Graeme.
“Two months ago Julie began getting back pains and headaches and started the whole struggle again,” D’Aintree said.
Schroeder-Ducker had a dying wish.
“She really wanted to take the kids to Disneyland and the community just pulled together for that,” D’Aintree said.
A fund-raiser by D’Aintree and Patti Sherwin at the Rockwater Tavern ensured the trip to Anaheim. By then, Schroeder-Ducker was in a wheelchair, but that didn’t prevent a wonderful day.
Schroeder-Ducker’s friends described her as stoic, strong and graceful in her final days.
After the trip the community continued to give. Sarah Sheehy, who didn’t even know Schroeder-Ducker, organized a fund-raising golf tournament and dinner to open bank accounts for the Ducker girls’ future. Tahoe Paradise let the golfers use the course for free.
Sheehy, the owner of the Turn 3 Peanut Bar, explained her motive.
“I lost my best friend (to cancer),” she said. “Everybody’s had to deal with cancer and I knew this would touch a lot of people. I just thank God I still have a mom.”
Jeff Miner got to the tournament too late to play, but he stayed for the dinner and ended up winning a raffle prize.
“I knew her just from (shopping at) Scotty’s,” Miner said. “She sure knew the business part of the store. She was always just a sweet, sweet person.”
Sadly, the tournament came one day after Schroeder-Ducker died.
It raised $8,000.
“I am overwhelmed,” Graeme Ducker said. “It was just unbelievable.”
A 25-year South Shore resident, he has changed his view on his community.
“I thought this town was full of people from the city and that the community had grown to point to where it was somewhat impersonal” he said. “I am glad to say I was very wrong. I can’t say thank you to enough to all those folks. Not only monetarily but in physical terms. A lot of Julie’s friends can’t wait to do stuff with, and for, the girls and myself.”
D’Aintree and Graeme Ducker said Julie’s daughters were always the most important things in her life.
“She was very loving, giving and lived totally 100 percent for her children,” Graeme Ducker said.
“She wanted the girls to be healthy and stable and have a good life. She wanted that for herself, too, but I can’t change that.”