Debra S "Debbie" Schroeder

Debra S Schroeder (nee Spaak), 57, of Sewell, New Jersey, passed away peacefully with her family on Tuesday, January 18, 2022.

Legacy, as written by Debbie's husband, Leonard Schroeder

Debbie Schroeder was just 57 when she left this Earth. She was almost eight years into Alzheimer’s before she passed and yes that is incredibly young. “Early-Onset Alzheimer’s” is what it is called but I don’t want to start at the end, but at the beginning!

Our story goes back to high school in North Jersey, where we started dating at sixteen. During those years, Debbie was led to a world of fashion! Upon graduating high school, Debbie entered the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology. Her degree was in Fashion Buying & Merchandising.

After a year or two of shopping mall hours and late nights, I suggested Debbie join the family business a retail nursery and garden center! Yes, I took her away from all that! Debbie left the world of fashion and joined the world of cow manure and fertilizer! We spent the next two years working side by side at Richfield Farms. But in our mid-twenties, we decided to head out on our own. We searched from New Hampshire to Virginia looking for the perfect location and found it here in Sunny South Jersey!

We are well known business people in Washington Township. Bloomers Home & Garden Center is our vocation. Over the last 34 years, we have made Washington Township our home. We raised three amazing children: Melissa (30), Adam (28) and Carl (26). Debbie was an incredible Wife, Mother and Businesswoman! As co-founder of Bloomers Home & Garden Center, we worked long and hard trying to carve out a niche for ourselves and our customers. Customers were family, and they watched our children grow before their eyes. Our family sat next to you in church and in the stands at sporting events. The Schroeder’s were a happy family until the winter of 2011.

In February of 2011, an employee burst through my office door and said “Len get out here, there’s something wrong with Debbie”! Debbie was dragging her foot, her speech was slurred and she was having a stroke. At the age of 47 she was having a stroke?! I held her hands as we waited for the ambulance and spoke gently to her. I did not want her to be afraid if she passed from this life to next. After several days at the hospital, it was revealed Debbie did have a stroke, but it actually wasn’t her first one, it was her second. Everything seemed to go back to normal and it made good press as our son Adam won wrestling high school Regions later that week. Melissa was attending Villanova, Adam was going to Franklin & Marshall College and Carl was attending Saint Augustine Prep. Everything seemed to go back to normal, but that was until we noticed Deb forgetting things.

She started looking for the car keys that were right in front of her, post it notes with the same note repeated over and over. Something was wrong and we were going to get to the bottom of it. It took three years to determine Debbie had Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. When we heard the diagnosis, we never thought “Why us?”, but rather “Why not us?”. Deb would get scared and ask me, “Len, what’s going to happen when it gets bad?!” I’d make her laugh and tell her “You’re not going to know”! Secretly, I knew that I would have a front row seat watching her decline.

In the beginning it wasn’t too bad, but in 2017, she was no longer able to work at her beloved Bloomers! From then until now, it has been a series of plateaus. Debbie, the brilliant beautiful girl I fell in love with in high school has been on hospice for two years, she could no longer walk, and she hadn’t spoken in years. She still retained her smile and would laugh on cue when others did. Earlier this summer, our daughter got married. Debbie would never know what it would be like to host her daughter’s bridal shower or help pick out her daughter’s wedding gown. Debbie would never know the honor of being "Mother of the Bride".

Debbie was set free. She is no longer locked behind her “Alzheimer’s Prison”. She is free to enjoy the splendors of Heaven with family members who have gone before. We are celebrating Debbie for who she was before Alzheimer’s. She was the most beautiful woman, inside and out. She loved to dance and laugh and smile. She had a heart of gold, loved her family fiercely and would do anything for anyone. She was a great wife, an incredible mother and a truly talented businesswoman.

Farewell Tribute

Relatives and friends are invited to attend her viewing on Sunday, January 23rd from 4:00PM to 6:00PM and Monday January 24th from 9:00AM to 11:00AM in the McGuinness Funeral Home (Washington Twp. Location)- 573 Egg Harbor Road, Sewell, NJ 08080. Funeral Service at 11:00AM. Interment to follow at Hillcrest Memorial Park Sewell, NJ. If attending services, our family requests that you do not wear somber colors but bright colors celebrating Debbie’s life before Alzheimer’s! Please dress in bright colors, the colors of flowers should be on full display! Donations Being Accepted to The Kimberly Fund c/o Luther Memorial Church Tinton Ave., Tinton Falls, NJ 07724. The Kimberly Fund assists children & families with Childhood Cancer.

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