Dr. Richard L. Schafer, a Korean War veteran who established the Toledo area's first hematology and oncology practice, died on Tuesday at Sunset House in Toledo. He was 89. Dr. Schafer died of Alzheimer's disease, said his wife of 38 years, Sandra "Sandy" Schafer.
Dr. Schafer established his own hematology and oncology practice around 1960, his wife said. The office was at West Sylvania Avenue and Talmadge Road in West Toledo, where the practice was joined at different times by Dr. William Horvath, Dr. George Pipoly, and Dr. Kenneth Krupp. He retired from private practice in the late 1980s to become assistant medical director for the Hospice of Northwest Ohio. "He was a pioneer in the field of hematology," Dr. Horvath said. "And he was very devoted to his patients and he was also very much devoted to teaching and educating young physicians."
At different times, Dr. Schafer was also chief of staff at the former Maumee Valley Hospital, chief of medicine at what is now Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, where he started a sickle-cell clinic, and medical director for Hospice of Monroe County. He also had been a physician at Toledo Hospital, the former Mercy Hospital, and St. Luke's Hospital. He held medical licenses in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and New York. Dr. Schafer had taught medicine at Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse, N.Y., before joining the Medical College of Ohio, now the University of Toledo Medical Center, where he was a professor of medicine and the medical director at UT's student medical center. "He made house calls. At times, he didn't get paid and he didn't care. He only cared about the health of his patients," Mrs. Schafer said. "He was the most wonderful man I've ever met. And wherever we traveled, there were never any strangers. He talked to everybody. People just seemed to automatically like him." Dr. Schafer's professional credentials included diplomate at the American Board of Internal Medicine and fellow at the American College of Physicians and the American Society of Hematology. He also served on the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Born Feb. 24, 1924, in Philadelphia, Dr. Schafer graduated from Northeast High School there and attended Guilford College. He continued his education at Duke University and studied at the University of Pennsylvania medical school, where he received his medical degree in 1948. During his last year at the medical school, he helped develop warfarin, a blood-thinning drug, his wife said. His later research included study of leukemia. He completed an internship at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and a residency in the pathology and internal medicine departments and a fellowship in hematology and oncology at Ohio State University.
Dr. Schafer enlisted in the Navy in 1950 and served during the Korean War as a ship's medical officer on USNS General Langfitt, then was lent as a pathologist to the First Army Headquarters, Fort Jay, N.Y. He served in the military until 1952, when he was honorably discharged. He moved to Toledo in 1955 to be closer to his brother, Rabbi Stephen Schafer, who now is retired and lives in Philadelphia, Mrs. Schafer said.
He was a fellow of the American College of Physicians, a "mark of distinction representing the pinnacle of integrity, professionalism, and scholarship," according to the ACP's Web site. Besides ACP, his professional memberships included the Royal Society of Medicine in Great Britain, the Toledo Academy of Medicine, and the Temple Congregation Shomer Emunim in Sylvania.
He and his wife traveled extensively during their leisure time. Highlights of those trips included attending an annual tea party given by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in London in the early 1980s, Mrs. Schafer said. He also enjoyed collecting and operating antique and small-gauge model trains and growing tomatoes.
Surviving are his wife, Sandra Schafer; sons Bruce and Robert Schafer; brother Stephen Schafer; stepsons Edwin Radin, Jeffrey Radin, and Harold Radin; seven grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Rita Schafer.
The family suggests tributes to the Dr. Richard L. and Sandra S. Schafer Cancer Fund, the Temple Congregation Shomer Emunim in Sylvania, the Sunset House, and the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.