Lary Alan Schafer, 82
Lary Schafer of Ester, Alaska was born to Ruby Tayer and Gordon Schafer in Lewiston, Montana and raised by his grandma Birdie Stanton. His grandma raised him and his younger sister, Skip Reistad, in Great Falls. He passed on September 27, 2022 in Ester surrounded by his wife and family.
Lary barely finished high school in Great Falls, mostly because of the antics he and his buddies pulled on the school teachers and principal. His grandma wouldn’t let them discipline him, so he got into all kinds of trouble. Despite his antics, he was able to graduate on time. He went on to graduate from University of Arizona and then received a post graduate degree from Arizona State. While at Arizona he spent a year in Nagoya, Japan immersing himself in their culture.
After Arizona he drove up to Alaska to attend UAF where he met his lifelong friends Norman L. Jackson, Bill Cheney and Dave Arthur. Tom and Mona Jackson of Kake culturally adopted him as one of their sons and he was treated that way by all from that moment forward. As Lingit and Haida people, their clan follows their mother’s lineage, so when he was adopted, he followed his mother’s side. His Lingít name was Gooch Éesh of the Yeil (Raven), Kaach.adi from the Kutís Hít, Looking Out to Point House. Their main clan crest is the Fresh Water-marked Sockeye Salmon. His father was Thomas Jackson Sr., Tsaagweidí, the Killerwhale People from the House that Anchors the Village of Kéex'. It is common for our Lingít people to say at times like this that he has walked into the forest. His mother was Mona Jackson, Haida from Haida Gwaii. Their Haida clan is Tiits Gitee Nei, Chiin Naay (Salmon House), whose main crest is the Hummingbird. In their Haida way, they say the Ancestors come to get them in an ocean-going canoe and taken them across the water to the other side.
Lary joined an elite group of educators at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, teaching future generations of teachers. He taught alongside Ray Barnhardt, Steve Grubis, Pat Dubbs, Mike Gaffney, Jim Strick, and Howie Van Ness. His career at UAF took him all over the state of Alaska, making friends from Arctic Village to the remote villages surrounding Bethel, Kotzebue and Dillingham. It was during this time that he met his wife, Velma.
Lary and Velma met in 1975 and married in 1978, raising their family in Fairbanks, Fort Yukon, Huslia and Ester. He learned from the Elders about hunting, putting food away and the traditional Athabascan ways. While in Huslia he became best friends with Lydia Simon and Warner Vent. They had all kinds of adventures, including going by snow machine to the hot springs and Kobuk. He still laughed about their adventures. He and Velma traveled around the world visiting Greenland, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Hawaii and many US cities. He enjoyed bringing new experiences and food to his family.
Upon his retirement, Lary took up poker and became an accomplished player. He eventually went to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. It was during his poker playing days that he would travel around Alaska meeting and making friends. He stayed with folks down in Tetlin, Tanacross, Northway and Tok area to play cards.
Lary was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago and died at his home in Ester. He was preceded in death by his grandmother, Birdie Stanton, parents, Thomas and Mona Jackson of Kake, uncle Benny Stanton, brothers Thomas Jackson, Jr (Squirt), Norman L. Jackson, Loren Jackson, Gary Jackson, Myron Jackson, Larry Jackson, Sr., and Bill Cheney, sisters Katherine Jada Smith and Cheryl Evan, and his best friend, Lydia Simon. He is survived by his wife, Velma Schafer of Ester, his sisters Skip Reistad of Bozeman, Montana, Della Cheney of Juneau, brothers Mike (Edna) Jackson and Joel Jackson of Kake, his close friends Warner Vent, Holly Churchill, Lisa Telford, Dave Arthur, and Chiggy Shields. He is also survived by his children Andy Jr., Geri, Joy and Barbara Simon, grandchildren William Frank and Keel Simon. He is survived by nieces and nephews and grandchildren in Fairbanks, Kake, Huslia, Anchorage and Montana.
The family will host a Celebration of Life on Saturday at 1pm at their Ester home. The family invites one and all to come visit and share a story or two. We also thank everyone for the outpouring of prayers, love and support.