Robert David Schaffer, 88, of Clinton, died on January 26 after a brief illness. He was born May 23, 1925 in Buffalo, the youngest child of Benjamin Nahum Schaffer and Helen Greenberg. He graduated from Lafayette High School in Buffalo in 1943. He attended Oberlin College on a music scholarship for a year before being drafted into the U.S. Army. During World War II, he directed the operation of the largest recreation library in the European Theater, based at Heidelberg University in Germany. After the war, he returned to the University of Buffalo, earning a B.A. in Sociology in 1948. He then attended the New York State College for Teachers at Buffalo, graduating in 1954 with an M.S. in Elementary Education.
He married Ethel Howard on February 8, 1963.
In 1964, he was appointed Associate Professor of Education at SUNY College of Oswego, where he led innovative programs in teacher training and preparation and taught classes in 6th and 7th grades at the Campus School. In 1971, he was hired as Associate Professor of Education at Utica College, and moved to Clinton. At Utica College he taught courses in human development and education foundations while directing an innovative competency-based teacher certification project. He returned to classroom teaching in 1973, teaching in the Utica City School District at the Jones School and the Roosevelt School. In 1975, he began a new professional chapter as a career counselor working at the Career Development Centers in both Utica and Rome. He also volunteered at the Rome Developmental Center providing job training for mentally and physically handicapped adults. In 1983, he retired and began sharing his insights and experiences in a weekly radio feature “All About Work” broadcast on NewsRadio WIBX 950. He also contributed more than 100 regular columns in The Clinton Courier as “The Argus”, commenting on social and political issues. He worked into his late 80s as an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Facilitator at the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, Madison Oneida BOCES, and Literacy Volunteers of America Mid-York Inc. where he taught hundreds of immigrants to speak English, using volunteers from Clinton Central High School and Hamilton College. He taught several courses at the Mohawk Valley Institute for Learning in Retirement (MVLIR) including “Magical Musical Moments” and a social issues course on “Sex, Politics and Religion.”
He was President of the Church Council of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Utica and a lay preacher at local Unitarian congregations. He was Cubmaster of Pack 199 and Scoutmaster of Troop 199 in Clinton and served on many district level scouting committees. He was former chair of the Clinton Village Planning Board; chair of the committee that wrote Clinton’s Historic Preservation Law; founding member of the Revenue Review Task Force for Clinton Central Schools; program chair and newsletter editor for the Mohawk Valley PC User Group and a past member of the Hamilton College and Community Oratorio Society.
He is survived by his wife Ethel, his daughter Ruth H. Schaffer, of Venice Fla., his son and daughter-in-law, Howard B. and Rachel M. Schaffer, two grandsons, Boone T. Schaffer and Mack H. Schaffer, of Takoma Park Md. He was predeceased by four brothers and a sister. He is survived by his older sister Marjorie J. Shafer of Buffalo.
Calling hours will be held from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, January 30 at Owens-Pavlot & Rogers Funeral Service, 35 College Street, Clinton. A celebration of life service will be announced for a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Kirkland Town Library, 55 ½ College Street, Clinton NY 13323.