BRICE PRAIRIE (WXOW) – On Sept. 22, 2012, Dave Schroeder, 45, left his house and never returned.
According to his wife, Karla, Schroeder didn't take anything with him; not even his wallet or diabetes medication.
Law enforcement has been investigating Schroeder's disappearance since last September. There have been multiple ground and air patrol searches, too. But Schroeder still hasn't been found.
"He is just the missing piece to our puzzle. There was always five of us and now there's four," said Karla Schroeder about her husband of 16 years.
"The time that has gone by has been full of emotions I didn't know existed. A lot of sadness, a lot of confusion, a lot of soul searching on what we need to do as a family," she said.
Dave and Karla's 20-year-old son, Michael Brophy, said he's stepped into the role of "man of the house."
"I guess right now the hardest thing is (Schroeder) always gave me the advice because I was the oldest," Brophy said. "So now that he's gone, (there're) still things I don't know how to do. I never learned how to fix things on cars; I never fully learned how to tie a tie. So all those little things build up that you don't learn from your father, that you wish you (had) learned."
Dave and Karla's youngest son, Jacob, who has special needs, became hypothermic from the stress of missing his dad.
Their son Devin has been having trouble concentrating.
"School has been kinda hard. (I'm) just trying to stay focused," he said.
The Schroeder family decided together that after a year of investigations that turned up no body and no clues, they're going to petition the court to declare Schroeder dead. That way his children can access his benefits and life insurance.
"It's a hard decision to make because you don't want to give up hope," Karla Schroeder said.
She said the family is each other's support system. It's what Dave would have wanted.
"Just remembering to tell people you love them. You never know what tomorrow may bring," Karla Schroeder said.
Along with his wife and three sons, Schroeder also left behind a newborn grandson.
To help Schroeder's family pay lawyers to petition the court to declare his death, friends organized a fundraiser at the American Legion in Holmen Saturday.
They hope to raise about $3,000 through food sales, donations and a silent auction of donated prizes.
Organizers said the fundraiser was a way to surround the Schroeder's with a support system one year after Dave disappeared.
"They're struggling," said Deb Sullivan, a friend of the family. "(Schroeder) was more or less the bread-winner of the family so it put an impact on their finances, it put an impact on their special needs son, it put an impact on the whole family."
If you want to donate to the Schroeder family, you can send money to Journey Lutheran Church at 2703 Sand Lake Road, Onalaska, WI 54650 or the Schroeder Emergency FundPark Bank, P.O. Box 100, Holmen, WI 54636.
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