Local Lifestyle, News

World War II veteran Ernie Schrider reflects on 100 years of family, work and service

by Kate Evans

Ernie Schrider, Berkeley Springs resident and World War II veteran, turns 100 years old this Saturday, March 23.  Schrider’s church — Faith in God Chapel on Tabor Road — is having a party for him and his daughter Elaine is coming up to have a party for him, too.

Ernie Schrider, Berkeley Springs resident and World War II veteran, turns 100 on March 23.

Even at 100 years old, Schrider tries to stay busy. He just finished shucking 14 bushels of black walnuts that friends had collected for him.  He harvested 55 pounds (and four ounces) of the walnut kernels since early October and just got done a couple of weeks ago.

Schrider said he was born on a dairy farm and has always had a garden. He’s going to plant pole lima beans, tomatoes, cabbage, green beans, carrots, onions, radishes and other kitchen table essentials in his garden this year in his 40 by 40 garden plot.

“I still love to work with my hands and plant things and see things grow,” Schrider said.

Schrider also loves to do jig saw puzzles and has converted one room of his home into a puzzle room.


Schrider was married for 72 years to his wife Gladys Schrider, who passed away in 2017.  They moved to Berkeley Springs in 1993 after Schrider retired from Howard County government in 1986.  He worked as a plumbing and electrical inspector for Howard County for 14 years.

Schrider said in the evening his wife would always be on the sofa reading. She loved to read and was the library’s best customer.

The couple had two children- daughter Elaine and a son Dana, who passed away at age 63.  The Schrider’s had two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

His granddaughter and great-granddaughter are in charge of the rabbit barn at the Howard County Fair, Schrider said.  His great-grandchildren do different crafts and enter them in shows at the fair.  They’ve won many blue ribbons.

Schrider said his dad had a small dairy farm in Silver Spring with 82 acres.  His dad later bought a dairy farm with 238 acres six miles away and increased their herd from 12 to 40 cows.  They milked them all by hand and sold fresh milk to one of the dairies in Baltimore who picked up the milk. Schrider had two sisters and three brothers.

Navy service

Schrider enlisted in the Navy on December 28, 1942.  He was an airplane mechanic and was land-based.  He didn’t see any combat action.   Schrider attended boot camp at the United States Naval Training Center Bainbridge, which was northeast of Baltimore.

After boot camp, Schrider went to mechanic school for six months in Jacksonville, Florida and then attended gunnery school.

The Navy operated on seaplanes that patrolled the East Coast from Cuba to Cape Hatteras.  Schrider said that German U-boats were sinking a lot of shipping then in the Atlantic Ocean. Schrider next was transferred to California and did all mechanic work there.

Navy veteran Ernie Schrider is fourth from the left in the front row of this photo taken with his squadron in front of a torpedo bomber in September, 1943 in North Island, California. He was 19 years old at the time and served as an airplane mechanic.

His younger brother Eugene Schrider also joined the Navy and served as U.S. Navy Admiral William Halsey Jr.’s private secretary.  Eugene was with Admiral Halsey at Tokyo Bay for the signing of Japan’s formal surrender on the USS Missouri in 1945.

Schrider said during the war you met friends and six months later you’d go one way and they’d go another.  80 years later, he contacted a few of them, but lost touch.

Bike repairs, donations

Some 30 years ago Schrider lived in Woodbine, Maryland, east of Frederick, and gave his old bicycle to a little deaf boy that lived up the street from him.  The kid was so tickled to have a bike of his own.  Schrider decided that he would fix bicycles and give them away to children that didn’t have one.

He’s given away 800 bicycles in the last 30 years.  Schrider said he enjoyed working on the bicycles and loved seeing the joy on children’s faces when they received one.

Over the years, Schrider donated bikes he repaired to kids at Greenwood Elementary, Warm Springs Intermediate School, in Paw Paw and through Starting Points.  His bike repair ministry was featured in a 2012 Morgan Messenger article.

In April 2023, Schrider had a bunch of bikes in his garage and gave 56 of them to Bicycle World.  Some needed chains or a seat.  Bicycle World fixed them and sent them to Peru, he said.

Mission work

Schrider got involved in mission work and followed the hurricanes in Florida and North Carolina.  Schrider also did mission work with a team of men through First United Methodist Church after he moved here.  They built a house for Habitat for Humanity and did a lot of work around the county, building handicapped ramps, decks and back porches, in Berkeley Springs and in Paw Paw.

There was always a need to build things for the elderly.  Schrider would get the gang of helpers together and get going.  Team members included Johnny Mesner, Don Davison, Joe Mechem and Gate Sykes.

Schrider said he still loves helping people.  He still mows his own grass and mows the lady next door’s grass, too.

Truly blessed

His daughter lives in Maryland with family.  They visit every so often to help him out.  Schrider has a cleaning lady that comes every week and scrubs the kitchen and vacuums.  He cooks for himself.

“I’m blessed at 100. I’m truly blessed,” Schrider said.  “Not too many 100-year-olds do their own cooking and washing.”

A lot of changes

Schrider said he’s seen a lot of change in 100 years — some for the good and some not.

When Schrider first moved into a home and asked for a phone, there were 7-8 of them on one party line.  Everyone listened to the conversations.  They’d have to tell the others to get off the line so they could hear the person they were talking to. It’s amazing now that you can do all your shopping on the phone, he said.

Schrider said things are different now. When they’d hoe corn when he was young, you could go to any stream and get a drink of water.  Now you can’t because the water is so polluted.

Schrider said when he was young, he was pretty wild, but he asked the Lord to come into his heart and He saved him.

“I give all the credit to the Lord.  It’s nothing I’ve done. It’s everything He’s done for me,” Schrider said.

“I take each day as it comes.  I ask the Lord to take me by the hand and show me the way,” he said.