Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Obituary: Robert E. Schaefer - Class of 1948

MONONA - Robert E. Schaefer, age 77, passed away on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2008, at Angelus Assisted Living of Cottage Grove. He was born on Dec. 22, 1930, in Madison, the son of Joseph and Edna (Rauner) Schaefer. He graduated from Madison Central High School in 1948. Robert served his country in the United States Army, serving as a M.P., stationed in Germany with the 1st Armored Division, during the Korean War. He was united in marriage to Elizabeth A. Oren, who preceded him in death in August 2006. Robert was a partner at Hagen Advertising. He was a great asset to his community. Robert was involved and very active with numerous organizations and served on several boards and committees in the Monona area: serving as a coach and taking two teams to the state tournament for Monona Little League; a founder and past president of Monona Youth Hockey Association; a founder and member of Monona Grove Football Athletic Boosters; served on the Streets and Transportation Commission for six years; served on the committee responsible for the design, approval and partial funding of Monona High School Athletic Communications Center at the football field; an active member of Monona Grove Business Men's Association; a founder, member of the board of directors and president of the association from 1982-1997, he was instrumental in the planning, design, approval and partial funding for the two diamond softball complexes and the Schaefer Shelter in Winnequah Park, with all costs covered by the Softball Association; served as chairman and co-chair of the MGBMA Chili Cook-Off; served on the committee for many years at the Monona Community Festival Committee; and many others too numerous to mention. He also received many awards: the Distinguished Service Award in 1983, for his exemplary service to the community; the Mayoral Award in 1997, for his many years of dedicated service to the City of Monona; and he received the Keys to the City of Monona in 1997, for his outstanding service to the City of Monona. Robert is survived by a son, Scott Schaefer of Monona and his four children, Jamie, Dana, Paulina and Bobby; daughter-in-law, DeAnn Schaefer of McFarland and her two children, Garrett and Madeline; two sisters-in-law, Lucy Schaefer of Madison and Shirley Bessel of Monona. Bob also leaves behind many relatives and special friends including the "Dirty Eight Club." In addition to his wife, Elizabeth he was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Steven R. Schaefer; and a brother, Donald Joseph Schaefer. A Memorial visitation will be held at GUNDERSON EAST FUNERAL HOME, 5203 Monona Drive, from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008, followed by a remembrance service. A celebration of life will continue at the Bourbon Street Grille, 6312 Metropolitan Lane, Monona, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Schaefer Education Scholarship Fund, for a Monona Grove High School graduate, c/o Bruce Iverson, 7854 West Oakbrook Circle, Madison, WI 53717.
Gunderson East Funeral and Cremation Centers 5203 Monona Drive (608) 221-5420

Originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on February 12, 2008

Leader Leaves His Mark On Monona
Wisconsin State Journal :: Daybreak :: 2G
Sunday, March 23, 1997
Phil McDade Wisconsin State Journal

Many volunteers leave their mark in almost intangibleways, serving as the behind-the-scenes backbones of civic groups and activities.

Not Monona's Bob Schaefer. His civic contributions can be seen virtually every day.

There's the Schaefer Shelter in Winnequah Park in Monona, which sits in the middle of the softball complex that Schaefer helped design and build.

There's the Winnequah Park Gazebo, which overlooks a lagoon and several willow trees in the park. Proceeds from the city's annual summer community festival, which Schaefer has helped run since its inception in 1985, built the gazebo two years ago.

And that's not to mention the city's annual charity chili cookoff, the Monona Grove football field, or the city's Fourth of July fireworks display. Schaefer has had his hand in all of those, as well.

Lately, the 66-year-old Schaefer has slowed down a bit. But his legacy of civic activism lives on. And it's a legacy of someone who produced visible results.

"I'm not a great one to go out and ask for donations, but we got some things done," he said.

Schaefer is an old Madison hand, old enough to have graduated in 1948 from the city's now-defunct Central High School. He was a big athlete, lettering in football and serving as co-captain of the basketball team.

After a stint in the Army, he held jobs in advertising at Madison Newspapers Inc., Sears Roebuck & Co., and CUNA Mutual Insurance Group. He then landed a job in 1964 at Hagen Marketing & Advertising, an advertising agency in Fitchburg. A two-person agency when he started, it's now grown to nearly 20 employees. He's semi-retired now, although he still keeps up with some clients and stops in the office frequently.

Much of Schaefer's civic work has focused on his adopted hometown of Monona. He's served as a Little League coach, helped found the Monona Youth Hockey Association, and was active in the Monona Grove Football Athletic Boosters. The last group helped build the press box at the school's football field in the mid-1970s, which was considered the best in the area at the time.

"I'm a big sports enthusiast," he said. Perhaps his biggest contribution toward sporting life in Monona grew out of his involvement in starting the city's softball leagues. Schaefer and some friends founded the Monona Softball Association in 1982 as an alternative to Madison's softball program. Now some 40 teams compete in Monona's softball leagues in Winnequah Park, where the Schaefer Shelter provides a place for fans to cheer.

"It's really turned out to be quite a program," he said. Schaefer has even dabbled in public policy, serving on the city's industrial development committee that helped bring commercial properties into Monona. He also served for several years on the city's streets and transportation committee, which dealt with the controversial construction of the South Beltline -- the stretch from Fish Hatchery Road to Interstate 90, which opened in 1989 and diverted traffic from West Broadway in Monona.

Schaefer's volunteer work in Monona won him the city's distinguished service award in 1983. He remarked how he felt nervous about accepting the award.

"I said, `Geez, that's a bad sign,' " he said. "They usually do that for people who croak."

It's been 14 years since Schaefer won that award, but his work in the community has never really stopped. Just ask the people who attend the city's summer festival around the Fourth of July, or the kids who ooh and aah over the holiday fireworks, or the couples who take their wedding photos at the city's new gazebo.

"At first you think, no, I don't want to get involved," he said. "It's a lot of work and sometimes frustrating. But I think through the years, it's been more fun than work."

Profile: Bob Schaefer Position: Secretary-treasurer and account executive at Hagen Marketing and Communications, an advertising agency.

Education: Graduate of Madison Central High School in 1948. Family: Wife, Elizabeth, sons Steve (deceased) and Scott, grandson Garrett, and granddaughters Madeline, Jamie, and Dana.

Hobbies: Taking his grandson Garrett on trips to youth hockey games.

Quote: "It's been a lot of work at times, but it's been a lot of fun."

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