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The passing of Philip Schaefer

Mon, Mar  28, 2011 - By Michael Schaefer

The MI Cup was a very special part of Phil's life during the 19 years he lived in Ohio, along with continued trips over for the Vasa and White Pine

Phillip T. Schaefer, 63, of Tomahawk died on March 16, 2011 at Sacred Heart Hospital in Tomahawk after a courageous battle with Cholangiocarcinoma.  Phil was born on May 16, 1947 in Merrill to Arthur and Naomi (Henrich) Schaefer.   On July 18, 1970 he married Jean Sylvester.

Phil grew up on the family farm, attended the one-room country school nearby and graduated from Merrill High School in 1965. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering and a varsity letter for rowing.  Phil worked at Zimpro Inc. in Rothschild, WI until 1984. He then served as Vice President of Operations at Ross Incineration Services in Grafton, Ohio.  In 2001, he moved back to Wisconsin and continued to work for Ross Incineration, telecommuting from his home in Tomahawk until 2004.  He was currently employed by Siemens Water Technologies in Rothschild, formerly  Zimpro, as a Senior Project  Manager .

Phil was an active and tireless volunteer, athlete, and sportsman. He was instrumental in developing the first cross country ski trails in the Underdown Recreation Area and was a volunteer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance.  He held leadership positions in the University of Wisconsin Alumni Association, and organized the Cleveland/Akron Ohio capital funds campaign.  He taught Sunday school and confirmation classes for a total of 25 years.   Phil served three terms as church council president at St. Stephens UCC in Merrill where he also served on four other church committees.   During his years in Ohio, he was a member of First Congregational UCC in Elyria, where he was a President of the Board of Trustees.  He was also active in the Elyria Noon Rotary Club and was the president of the club in 1994. He and Jean were host parents for Rotary exchange students from Sweden, Finland and South Africa.  Phil coached and umpired Hot Stove Baseball and Softball, was a member and past chairman of the board  of  directors of Leadership Lorain County, built houses with Habitat for Humanity, served as a youth hunting mentor, and was chosen to carry the Olympic Torch in its relay through Ohio in 1996.  A life-long athlete, he completed over 100 full-length running and skiing marathons, including the American Birkebeiner, which he skied 33 consecutive years.  

He is survived by his wife, Jean, son Dr. Michael (Jill) Schaefer, Grafton, Ohio, daughter, Bethany Schaefer, Wausau, grand-daughters  Julia and Amanda Schaefer, his brother Bruce (Janet) Schaefer, Merrill and sister Barbara Schaefer of Kamuela, Hawaii.  He is further survived by his father-in- law William Sylvester of Stevens Point, sisters-in-law Dr. Carol (Dr. Herbert) Lyon of Las Cruces, New Mexico and Louise (Gary) Thompson of Stevens Point.

A memorial service and celebration of Phil’s life was held at 3 PM, Saturday March 26, at Stephens United Church of Christ   902 E. 2nd Street in Merrill.  The family received friends   from 1 PM to 3 PM and following the service during a reception in the church fellowship hall. 

A memorial service will also be held at First Congregational Church in Elyria, Ohio on April 9 at 10 A.M.

Memorials may be directed, to the family, for St. Stephen’s Church, Grace Lutheran Church in Tomahawk, the Lincoln County Forestry Department-Underdown Recreation Area or Friends of Lake Mohawksin.