Udo Ottocar Schroff, 75, died April 22nd, 2019 peacefully at Erlanger Hospital with his family by his side.
Udo was born on February 28, 1944 in Garmisch, Germany. As a little boy, he would play in the streets of what remained in Berlin after the allied bombings during World War II. At age 12, he, his mother and his brothers immigrated to Chattanooga from Germany where English, at first, was very foreign to them all. He corresponded with his father, Alfred while he fought and eventually died in the war.
Throughout grammar school and high school, he learned to speak English, excelled in soccer and eventually football, and learned to stand his ground regardless of the odds. He had many jobs as a young man which instilled in him the values of hard work and perseverance. After high school he enrolled in the University of Chattanooga and became a member of the Lamda Chi Alpha fraternity and ROTC, an organization which strengthened his sense of discipline. He met his wife, Fran, after graduating from college. He was introduced to her by a college friend and within 6 months they were married. Soon after he went on to serve 2 tours of duty in Vietnam where he earned the rank of captain, demonstrating a remarkable sense of calm during intense combat situations. He was an instructor at Fort Bragg before leaving the military in 1969.
After leaving the Army, he began a career with Pfizer, and eventually he worked for Miller Brewing Company and 7-Up as a member of the executive team. Udo would join his cousin, Gunther Schroff, in the US launch of he German based Schroff Inc., a global manufacturer of industrial enclosures. This US plant would become the largest in the Schroff GmbH corporation. This required relocating the family to Rhode Island.
When their two sons, Michael and Peter, entered their lives, Udo coached them in soccer but more importantly he used this time to instill the same values he had learned. Each fall, Udo reinforced these life lessons by leading the two young boys into battle against an onslaught of leaves, armed only with a bedsheet, rakes and a wheelbarrow. He demonstrated how to be creative and resourceful in using a simple hallway and a junior-sized football to learn concentration and hand-eye coordination, or how simple king-sized mattress could be used to teach balance both on the ground in the air.
It was in Rhode Island where he and his eldest son, Michael, discovered a new passion, competitive sailing. He had several sail boats over the years, all named Amadeus in honor of his German heritage. He and Michael, along with their crew won multiple sailing championships including one World Title.
Udo and his wife, Fran relocated to Chattanooga in 2017. After her death in 2017, Udo reconnected with his Alma Mater, now the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, volunteering in many areas of the University. His true passion for the military led him to become involved in the ROTC program there. He felt strongly that there should be a military ball so he sponsored the ROTC ball in 2018 and 2019.
In 2018, Udo met Patricia Vinson with whom he would share many happy times.
Udo was preceded in death by his mother, Brigitte Koepp and brother, Eike Hohenadl. He is survived by his sons Michael C. Schroff of Chicago, IL and Peter W. Schroff, his wife Molise, his grandson Kyler and grandaughter, Averianne of Cranston, RI; his brother Leroy “Buggi” Bratton and wife Patricia, brother in law Jim Benz and wife Murray of Atlantic Beach, FL and sister in law Chris Smith and husband Trip of Soddy Daisy. In addition, there are several nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
The family will receive friends at St Timothy's Episcopal Church, Signal Mountain on April 26, 2019 at 11:00 AM followed by a celebration of his life at 12:30. There will be a private burial at the National Cemetery in Chattanooga. Pallbearers will be Michael Schroff, Peter Schroff, Major Kevin Beavers, UTC Army ROTC, Richard W. Buhrman, Benny Bedford, Thomas A. Williams, fellow ROTC graduates and fellow lambda chi alpha fraternity brothers.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Frances Benz Schroff ROTC/Nursing Scholarship Fund at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Office Of Development, Department 6806, 605 Oak Street, Chattanooga, TN 37403
Visit heritagechattanooga.com to share condolences to the family and view the memorial tribute.
Arrangements are by Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 E. Brainerd Road.