Stories of Our Seniors

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Schafers

  1. We are writing this column so that the people of All Saints can better know the gifts we have among us in our senior members.   We begin with the stories of Dr. Warren and Jen Schafer.   Born in a small town in Colorado, Warren was the son of a farmer and a school teacher.  The year was 1919.  Warren’s father died when he was just nine years old. He and his two brothers were farmed out to relatives.  At this young age he was expected to earn his keep by farming and herding cattle.  In spite of being moved from one family to another during his childhood, he managed to graduate from high school in 1937.  From there he joined the Navy.  It was in the service that he got his medical experience that led to dentistry. After leaving the Navy, he graduated from college and then went on to dental school in Portland.  He later set up a practice in Oregon City.   Jen was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Her father moved the family to Astoria, Oregon during WWII in 1940.  Her grandfather owned a dairy and supplied milk to the service people at Fort Stevens.  When the war was over the big demand for milk was over too.  So the family moved to Oregon City and to another farm.  Jen had wanted to be a teacher, but a friend persuaded her to take a much shorter course for becoming a dental assistant. To Jen’s surprise, she really liked it!  In 1955 Jen landed her first job with a young dentist named Warren Schafer.  They worked together for twelve years before marrying.  Jen says they were just too busy to take the big step.   Jen worked outside the office in organizations fighting for better training, wages, and certification for dental assistants.  She often worked in leadership roles in this effort.  Warren was equally active outside of his practice.  He was trained in forensics and often helped the sheriff in his county. He also helped repair the damage done to victims of domestic abuse.  When asked, he became a volunteer fireman.    After retiring, Warren and Jen volunteered even more.  This time with a new group called Northwest Medical Teams.  They started going out in vans, using donated, dated dental equipment.  Their patients were mainly migrant workers.  Little did they know where this work would take them!  A request came in for them to go to Mexico.  However due to a big storm, the trip was canceled and another request was made. Would they go to a place called Uzbeckezistan?  Being the troopers that they are, they packed their bags and off they went.  They were met at the airport by a young man named Shukhrat.  He would be their guide, Interpreter, and worker of miracles while they were there.  They were to work in a dental school.  The school was housed in a building badly in need of repair and the equipment was primitive to say the least.  Jen remembers the bathroom as a real shocker.  Just a cement partition with holes in the floor.  The preferred anesthetic for patients was lots of vodka.  Never-the- less, Warren and Jen rolled up their sleeves and went to work.   More trips followed to Uzbeckezistan as well as to  Thailand and Vietnam.  The Shafers found the people of Uzbeckezistan to be especially warm and welcoming.  They will always have a special place in their hearts for them.   But that is not the end of this story. Their guide and his family became so dear to them that Warren and Jen sponsored them to come to this country and live with them.  Now they are “family” and Jen and Warren are grandparents to their children.  They couldn’t be prouder.   Warren and Jen came to All Saints at the invitation of their good friends, Herm and Joyce Grafe.  When asked what impressed them most?  ” It was the people”, says Jen.  The two have been involved in a number of ministries at the church.  They even brought the dental van.  This volunteer group still reaches out to the community to those would not have access to dental care.  We get to be a part of that.    I could write a book about these two remarkable people.  Aren’t we lucky they chose All Saints!

  Reported by  Donna Woodruff