Memories through 5/24/05

Below are memories posted prior to Mr. Shafer’s death on May 24, 2005. To leave your memories, please click on the “New Memories” link to the left and fill in the form. To read the most current memories from others, click on “New Memories” and then click on the link at the very bottom of the page. To make this easier to read we have added a new page of memories called Memories II consisting of postings after May 24.. 

5-24-2005 - Final Posting
Dotty Westerdale
Ann Arbor, Mi, US
Dick passed away this evening shortly before 11:00. The nurse called me around 9:30 to report there had been some changes in his condition so I went to Arbor Hospice. He was not responsive. The tv was on so I changed it to Crufts dog show which I know Dick used to enjoy. He slipped away quietly and peacefully. I miss him.
His "niece of sorts" as he called me. Dotty W.

Margy McNamara Pastor, 1959
Washington, DC, US
I just received the University High School Newsletter. Thank you for informing me of Mr. Shafer's illness. I was unable to attend the class of 59' reunion last summer so I'd not heard about his illness or the scholarship fund. Mr. Shafer is one of those teachers whose personality and approach to teaching had a permenant impact on my life. I too used to tremble in his classes, dreading the time I might be called upon to read a paper or answer a question. He was a demanding and commanding figure. It was his sense of humor, irony, and certainty that his students were intelligent, imaginative, and capable people who just needed a jolt, that motivated us. We were at times a bunch of jokesters and I think we drove him crazy. I remember him making us re sort and re pass papers because we'd been unable to follow simple directions. I learned so much and I found his classes compelling. He commanded good work and respect and he got it. He was a very thought full and carring teacher with a commnitment to a literate and community life.

Cynthia Hendrian DeFoe 1950
Traverse City, Michigan, US
Hi, Mr. Shafer, I think the idea of a scholarship fund is wonderful. Between you and Miss McKinley, English was my first love and my major at the U of M. While studying and reading literature I found it so fascinating that people's relationships and emotions through time do not change. I hope to write 'something' about my grandmother, Mae Van Buren. She was such a stable part of my life. I think often of Suzie Bromage and myself as French maids in the senior play. I was so shy and knew that the anxiety I felt before I went on stage acting was not my strength! Thanks so much for the inspiration you've given to all of us. Take care and know that you are loved.
PS Don't correct this!

Barbara Mordy
Santa Clara, CA, US
Many menories of u High are tied up with "Mr. Shafer" and his English and Drama classes. Mr. Shafer you have left and lasting imprint on many lives. You were a great teacher. Thank You! Barbara Mordy The would have been Class of 1969.

Tom Atkins - 1956
Ann Arbor, MI, US
A couple of years ago, Mr. Shafer combed through his collection of UHS yearbooks for me to locate pictures of my mother Helen-Jane Stewart and her friend Carlotta Weitbrecht (Pete Walter's mother) as sophomores in the 1928 Nunc Dimittis. This led to my visiting Mr. Shafer at his cozy home on Lutz Avenue a few times. We reminisced about UHS and Ann Arbor history and my mother's childhood friendship with Winkie Hall (later Winifred Favreau) and the Christmas candles in the windows of Dr. Hall's home at 1530 Hill Street. I really appreciated Mr. Shafer's hospitality during these visits and his patience in answering my many questions about various UHS faculty and students. He provided wonderful historical links and fueled my nostalgia in a most welcome way. Thank you, Richard Shafer!

Eric Warden 
Ann Arbor,MI,US
This morning I went straight from the printer to take copies of the special newsletter (that announces the scholarship fund) to Dick; I knew he was anxious to see it. When I arrived at Arbor Hospice around 10:30, he was sound asleep, with the tv softly playing a re-run of an Ann Arbor Parks Commission meeting. !

Sue Wagoner Clay 1959
Grand Rapids,MI,US
Marilyn Tobias Weaver
(‘59) and I had the opportunity to visit with Mr. Shafer last Tuesday. As Bill reports, he was very chipper and happy to receive us. We were both glad that we stopped .

Sarah Lesher-Alfonso 1967
I don't remember the first time I went to see Mr. Shafer at his home on Lutz after I graduated from U High, but I remember clearly how my heart was beating in my chest. It was a bold move, but he could not have been more gracious and welcoming. I was always petrified to raise my hand in his class, scared to death that he would call on me. We had so much fun when we went with him on the bus to see plays at the Stratford Festival in Canada. I remember searching for the perfect walking stick for him at Cost Plus in the early 70's when I lived in San Francisco. He means a lot to me. His yearly Christmas cards have meant a lot to me. There is nobody like him...

Sam Reiter 1951
Enjoyed visiting with him during our 50th reunion. Now recall when we were studying satire and were assigned to write a paper. Mine was entitled, "Heart of an English Teacher", I think it was too satirical, as I recall I was marked down a grade. As a result of Dick's instilling appreciation of theatre in me, I had over 30 years of association with community theatre in Owosso as an actor, director and officer. In fact their website indicates that the actor of the year award is called the "Sammy".

Milan Marich (Mike)
Ann Arbor,Michigan,US
Saw Shafer twice, once in hospital and once at Hospice. He actually seemed better at Hospice as he seemed to understand. At hospital he was not lucid started to spell words. Called Hedley Sharples in England. He taught at U. High for a year. He and Dick are close friends and he had not heard about his illness. He will touch base with the Hospice and wants to know about Dick. He had planned to visit with Dick this summer and stay with him. He has done this before and when he came the two of them, my wife and I always had a dinner together and a good time

Bill Morrison - Class of '59
I visited Mr. Shafer today. He seemed more tired but still pleased to have a visitor and hear any news. I read notes that came with contributions to him and he knew everyone, incluing their graduation year. He was very pleased that the scholarship has passed the $16,000 mark. Still had his sense of humor - I got a big smile when I told him we recommended that the criteria for his scholarship should be that the recipient would not be allowed to get married which would surely interfere with their teaching, but they would be allowed to take out the civics teacher now and then. [When I was in high school I was doorman at the State Theater and he would always flash a silly grin when I caught him bringing female teachers to the show.]

Eric Warden
Ann Arbor,MI,US
I spent an hour with Mr. Shafer this afternoon (May 11). He had many questions about the scholarship fund, the special issue of the newsletter that's going out, various alums. He was amused at some of the greetings I brought. He has about a dozen greeting cards "which I like to have on display." He is thin, a bit forgetful, but cheerful, amusing, and grateful for all consideration.

Bill Morrison - Class of 59
I visited Mr. Shafer this morning at 11:30 and found him alert and pleased to have a visitor. He is especially interested in the Scholarship that we have set up in his name and wants it to be successful