Cover photo for Robert "Bob" M. Schaeffer's Obituary
Robert "Bob" M. Schaeffer Profile Photo

Robert "Bob" M. Schaeffer

August 30, 1951 — May 4, 2022

Robert "Bob" M. Schaeffer

Bob M. Schaeffer, 70, of Philadelphia, a longtime physical education teacher in the School District of Philadelphia, sportsman, environmentalist, and dog lover, died Wednesday, May 4, of liver disease at Jefferson Torresdale Hospital.

A lifelong resident of Northeast Philadelphia, Mr. Schaeffer lived as an adult in the house on Rhawn Street in which he grew up. He went to the Boy Scouts jamboree at Valley Forge in 1964, was an all-star football player at Northeast High School in 1968, and spent 32 years teaching elementary and middle school health and physical education in Philadelphia.

He was an avid skier, bicyclist, and beach bum. He hit the slopes often in Park City, Utah, and scaled the sand dunes on long summer days in Ocean City, N.J. And when things got tense, Mr. Schaeffer would say: “It’s all good.”

He managed his job and finances so he could retire at 55, and his page lists his occupation as “retired at happily retired.”

“He was always very chill,” said his partner, Nina Manojlovich. “He had a calm demeanor.”

Mr. Schaeffer was an organic gardener and conservationist. He brightened a vacant lot next to his house with plants and flowers, never used fertilizer or chemicals, and got angry when he saw cigarette butts in the street.

His Facebook page is dotted with posts about environmental responsibility and his love for dogs. “He believed in leaving nature alone to do its thing,” Manojlovich said. “He said we have to leave something for the kids.”

Mr. Schaeffer adopted rescue dogs, Butch and Lady, and minded service dogs when their trainers or owners had to be away. He tried to keep bees, but they couldn’t survive winter in Philadelphia. He never married or had children and traveled and skied after he retired in 2006.

Born in Philadelphia on Aug. 30, 1951, Mr. Schaeffer graduated from Northeast High School in 1969 and West Chester State College, now West Chester University, with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education in 1973. He wore No. 72 and was an all-star lineman for the 1968 Northeast football team that went 9-1 overall and won the Philadelphia Public League championship with an 8-0 record.

Patient in temperament and methodical in manner, Mr. Schaeffer was an effective teacher, Manojlovich said, because he broke down complex instructions into easy-to-follow directions. He was good at football, and liked baseball and hockey, so teaching sports and physical education came naturally. His mother and grandmother were teachers, too.

He attended reunions with his high school teammates, and they posed for pictures at recent Northeast football games. “He was a good athlete,” said his brother, Paul.

Mr. Schaeffer listened to the Grateful Dead, attended countless concerts, and read biographies. He met Manojlovich 11 years ago on one of her walks through the neighborhood, and they went on to travel the world together.

They toured Europe, stopping in Paris, Amsterdam, and elsewhere, and returned often to her native Croatia. He made friends everywhere, and they all treated each other like family. “He was very generous,” Manojlovich said. “He was a good guy.”

In addition to his partner and brother, Mr. Schaeffer is survived by other relatives.

No services are to be held.

Donations in his name may be made to the Sierra Club, 2101 Webster St., Suite 1300, Oakland, Calif. 94612, and Greenpeace, 702 H Street NW, Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20001.

Obituary kindly written by Gary Miles, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer.

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