As principal of the Tappan Grammar School
from the Depression until the late 1960s, William O. Schaefer
dealt with challenges ranging from feeding hungry children to accommodating a booming student population after World War II.
Through it all, Schaefer
students, faculty and family with his
meticulous attention to the needs of his
school and community.The South Orangetown Central School District
honored him for his
dedication by naming a brand new elementary school for him at the end of his
33-year tenure as principal. The William O. Schaefer Elementary School
, opened and dedicated in 1965, can be found on Lester Drive in Tappan
. William Oscar Schaefer
was born on May 6, 1905, in Cadosia, a rural community in upstate New York.According to his
1986 obituary, which appeared in this newspaper, Schaefer's commitment to education began early. He
attended a one-year teacher's training program right after high school and, upon graduation, taught in a one-room school in upstate Sullivan County.He eventually attended Buffalo State Teacher's College in 1929.
"The life of a pupil in school is to be made as interesting as possible," Schaefer
every ability is to be challenged, he
is to be given a chance to use his
initiative and assume responsibility for his
"You could feel that he liked you," said Elizabeth Monsees, wife of Ralph Monsees, who was in fifth grade when Schaefer
came to the school in 1932.
...George Garrecht, who attended Tappan Grammar School from 1959 to 1965, said everyone knew not to cross Mr. Schaefer because that could land you in his office.
Elizabeth Larkin said that because Schaefer
and his wife lost two children at birth, the school filled the void.
extended the same level of devotion to the larger community of Tappan
.He participated in both the Boy and Girl Scouts, coached youth teams, was a library trustee, and served as secretary for the volunteer fire department.
knew everybody," said Monsees.
With such a firm commitment to his
school and the larger community around it, Schaefer
had a hard time coping when he
retired in 1965.
ended up coming out of retirement and returning as principal of Tappan Grammar School
in the late 1960s.
While a move to Florida helped him ease into his
second retirement, he
never forgot his
center of gravity.