Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday, Harold Schafer

Today, February 1, in Medora and throughout the state of North Dakota, folks will gather and celebrate the life and legacy of Harold Schafer.

A graduate of Bismarck High School, Schafer left North Dakota State University to start a career in sales, helping to support his widowed mother and younger sister.

As a young man, Schafer began his own line of Gold Seal floor wax and furniture polish, adding Glass Wax and, eventually, Mr. Bubble, to the line of products. Certainly an American success story of hard work and determination, Schafer took the lead in saving, preserving and restoring first the Rough Rider Hotel and eventually most of the old cowboy town of Medora.

You can see a wonderful, brief profile of Harold Schafer here:

Every summer, hundreds of thousands of folks from around the country and around the world visit Medora and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park which is contiguous to the town. I consider it a tremendous honor to bring my interpretative performance as Theodore Roosevelt to life in Medora this summer in conjunction with the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF), begun by Mr. Schafer, his family and friends so many years ago.

Today, as folks gather in North Dakota, celebrating the life and legacy of Harold Schafer, we can say that his example and the vitality of what he built is alive and well and in good hands. Harold’s wife, Sheila Schafer, is a vibrant dynamo and Medora’s chief cheerleader. The sparkle in her eyes and the joyfulness in her voice surely convey much of the love that Mr. Schafer had for this place and this project. Son Ed Schafer, a former North Dakota Governor and United States Secretary of Agriculture, is just one of many family and community members who continue to ensure the future of these good works. The TRMF benefits from the veteran leadership of Randy Hatzenbuehler. World class programs and exposure come to Medora via the humanities scholar and historical interpretor Clay Jenkinson and his colleagues, especially Sharon Kilzer, at the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University. Superintendent Valerie Naylor and all of the rangers, staff and volunteers at Theodore Roosevelt National Park ensure that a visit to the park is a breathtaking experience of nature, history and wildlife.

So, with so many good people putting their shoulders to the wheel, with the beauty of the Badlands and the unmatched hospitality of the people of Western North Dakota abounding, I think Harold Schafer is looking upon his loved ones and his beloved Medora on this his 100th birthday with a broad smile and a twinkle in his eye. Happy 100th birthday, Harold Schafer. Bully for you and Medora.