William W. Schroeder, a local radio personality for decades known on air as John McKnight who became communications director for the American Cancer Society in Northwest Ohio, died of liver cancer Friday in his Old West End home.
He was 68.
He had survived prostate cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 1998.
He was diagnosed with liver cancer in January, said Larry Stine, his partner of 34 years.
An advocate for early testing and detection for prostate cancer, Mr. Schroeder was appointed director of communications for the American Cancer Society in Northwest Ohio in 1998.
He held the position until retiring in 2005.
Mr. Schroeder spent 25 years working for Toledo radio stations using the on-air name of John McKnight.
From 1980 until 2005 he was an on-air radio personality, production director, and radio announcer for radio stations such as WMHE and WOHO, where his most popular radio shows included “PM Gold” and “Desperate and Dateless,” Mr. Stine said.
He voiced radio ads and emceed numerous events throughout greater Toledo.
Mr. Schroeder was a freelance news reporter for WUPW-TV, Channel 36 in 2005.
He was a loaned executive for United Way of Greater Toledo in 2006.
“‘If only one thing is remembered about me, I hope that it is that I cared for others, especially the underdog,’ he once wrote in a letter to me. And he did,” Mr. Stine said.
“And when many years ago we talked about death, we would tell each other what we wanted written on our gravestones. And [what he wanted on his] was ‘Thanks for listening’ ... He was a talker,” Mr. Stine said.
Mr. Schroeder was born Jan. 1, 1945 in Toledo.
His mother, Jane Schroeder Ruhfel, was one of the first female television personalities in Toledo, where she had a show Fun Farm on WSPD-TV in the 1950s, Mr. Stine said.
After graduating from Scott High School in 1964, Mr. Schroeder briefly attended the University of Toledo.
Later in 1964, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and then served at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada during the Vietnam War.
He was honorably discharged in 1968, with the rank of sergeant.
While serving in the Air Force, he started his broadcasting career.
He was given the name John McKnight when working as a radio announcer with KENO Radio in Las Vegas.
He later was a savings and loan officer there.
After returning to Toledo in 1980, he continued his career in broadcasting.
A longtime Old West End resident, he volunteered for the Old West End Association as a tour guide for its historic home tours.
Surviving are his partner, Larry Stine; and brothers John, Michael, and Richard Schroeder.
A memorial Mass will be at 11 a.m. Dec. 7 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 434 Western Ave., where the family will greet friends after 10 a.m.
Arrangements are by the Foth-Dorfmeyer Mortuary.
The family suggests tributes to the Old West End Association.