Penny Lynn Schrader

Posted: Sunday, August 22, 2010

Former Juneau resident Penny Lynn Schrader passed from this world surrounded by family on Aug. 16, 2010, after an extended illness.

Penny was born on Aug. 1, 1953 in Bakersfield, Calif. and blossomed into a gentle spirit in love with nature. She first came to Alaska to work in a cannery, then returned south. But the lure of the wild drew her back, and when she found the fjords and islands of Juneau in 1985, she put down roots and made it her home. There she birthed a lovely girl into the hands of a midwife. Two years later, a boy completed her family and she immersed herself in the ever-learning and growing experience of parenting.

She shared her connectedness with the natural world with her young ones through camping, gardening, berry picking, mountain climbs and endless beach walks. She always prioritized making herself available to them in their formative years, working selected hours at the Silverbow and Fiddlehead Restaurants, where she made many close friends who widened her web of caring. Later, she shared her love of children by working in the schools, then joined Catholic Community Services, helping young families with their many challenges.

As her own family matured and her daughter moved into the wider world to explore and get her education, Penny began to look for how to take care of herself and her changing health needs. She received extensive training about raw foods, and returned to the land of sunshine, settling into the cozy community of Patagonia, Ariz. This was an excellent move for both her health and her son's education. They thrived there for many peaceful years until her illness' discomfort became more than all of everyone's efforts could relieve.

Penny was a creative spirit. She performed in the Perseverance Theatre production of "The Birds," sang in the folk festival and made paper from natural materials. She sewed for the theater and had a small seamstress business.

One of her most exquisite pieces she displayed herself in the 2005 Wearable Arts Show, entitled "Turning 50, Shedding the 'if onlys' and Heading Towards the Light." She was carried on stage attached to a sculpture of driftwood, wrapped in a cocoon made from grandad's drapes, and emerged dramatically, spreading wide wings of recycled wedding dress lace, embellished with giant fall ferns and delicate seaweed and swept toward a firechild friend, in love with life and full of hope.

Her quote, read as she danced down the runway was, "If only there weren't any 'if onlys.' You are invited to participate in the shedding of your 'if onlys.' If only I could get out of this tight spot, and spread my wings and fly." Penny has finally flown free. Those who loved her will miss her dearly.

Penny is preceded in death by her parents and sister and is survived by her beloved children, Shalom Schrader of Juneau and Philip Cahill of Tuscon, her husband Brian Cahill of Juneau, and numerous friends and relations who will long remember her loving soul and sweet spirit. A gathering of Juneau friends will be held from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Sept. 4 at the home of Frances Still (364-3406) with a beach fire, weather permitting.

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