CDR Thomas Charles Schafer, lovingly known as Tom, PawPaw, or PawPaw Bobo, passed away on July 22, 2023, at the age of 86 in Terrytown, LA. He was born on July 4, 1937, in Cleveland, OH, to Charles Clarence Schafer and Mary Bevan Schafer. With heavy hearts, we mourn the loss of an exceptional individual who leaves behind a legacy of strength, courage, and a lifetime of remarkable achievements.
Tom is survived by his devoted wife of 62 years, Glinda Schafer, and their three children: David (Jen), Michael, and Lori Schafer Gerarve (Dennis Jr.). He also leaves behind his beloved brother, James Schafer (Kathy), seven cherished grandchildren: Tyler Schafer (Alexis), Charlie Schafer, Gavin Pinney, Olivia Deloney, Adam Schafer, Elizabeth Gerarve, and Dennis Gerarve III, and an adorable great-grandchild, Aidan.
From an early age, Tom displayed determination and a strong sense of duty. At the age of eighteen, he joined the United States Coast Guard, where he served honorably for twenty-four years. His service took him to various parts of the world, including Greece, where he served on the USCG Courier ship, The Voice of America.
Tom's dedication led him to attend Officer Candidate School and flight school, ultimately becoming both a rotary and fixed-wing pilot. During his time in the Coast Guard, Tom participated in numerous at-sea rescues, but one, in particular, has been forever etched in the annals of history. He bravely flew the HH52-A 1426 aircraft, repeatedly landing on water assisting to save 111 individuals forced to evacuate a burning vessel. His heroism and skill ensured the safety of all passengers, without any serious injuries. This rescue earned him the highest accolades and the aircraft was inducted to the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
After meeting Glinda in Pensacola, Tom's career took him to Brooklyn, NY (David), Kodiak, AK (Mike), and St. Petersburg, FL (Lori), before finally settling in Terrytown, LA, where he resided for fifty-two years. Upon retirement, Tom pursued his passion for education, obtaining his Bachelor's degree in business from Holy Cross College. With his degree, he embarked on the entrepreneurial path, inventing and marketing his patented product, the Trash Trapper.
Tom's ingenuity and love for firearms led him to work at Gretna Gun, where he not only refined his marksmanship skills but also shared his expertise through gun safety classes. He further excelled as a long-time range officer for Bayou Dragon, actively participating in local Glock Sport Shooting Foundation tournaments.
Beyond his professional achievements, Tom was deeply involved in his community. He served as the president of the Terrytown Country Club and mentored numerous Scouts as a dedicated Scout leader. Tom's interests and talents extended far and wide, encompassing woodworking, fishing, target shooting, playing the guitar, and sharing heartwarming melodies with dear friends.
In addition to his remarkable attributes, Tom was an esteemed member of the Coast Guard Aviation Association, The Ancient Order of the Pterodactyl, further exemplifying his commitment to his military roots and camaraderie. As an added support to his wife’s talents, he served as a Board Member of the Degas Pastel Society.
To those fortunate enough to have known Tom, he will forever be remembered as a witty curmudgeon with an endless repertoire of stories from his many adventures. His quick wit and creativity endeared him to all, and he was always ready to lend a helping hand. Tom possessed an unrivaled ability to fix or build anything, exemplifying the man of many talents that he truly was.
As we bid farewell to CDR Thomas Charles Schafer, may we pause to celebrate a life well-lived and express our gratitude for having shared in his journey. His legacy of integrity, quick wit, intuitive perspective, grit, dedication, observational unique humor and creativity, will forever guide and inspire those who were fortunate to know him.
A celebration of Tom's life will be held at a later date, allowing loved ones to gather and honor his memory in a manner that befits his extraordinary life. In this time of grief, may we find solace in the memories we hold dear, knowing that Tom's spirit will endure through the lives he touched and the lessons he instilled in us all.
In closing, let us remember Tom's words of wisdom, "There should always be a place for whimsy in the world." May his soul find eternal peace as we carry his enduring legacy in our hearts.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to St. Jude.
MOTHE FUNERAL HOME is assisting the family during this difficult time. Family and friends may offer condolences at mothefunerals.com.