Olive Reed Schafer began teaching when she was 15 years old. Almost 15 years later, in 1936, she earned her first college degree, a bachelor of science in English from Fort Hays State University.
She earned her final degree, a Ph.D., in 1981.
She appreciated the value of scholarships and higher education, and so her estate included a gift to the institution from which she earned her first degree, FHSU. Her will left two parcels of land in Rooks County, totaling more than 400 acres, to the FHSU Endowment Association.
Proceeds from the sale of the land, expected to take place within the next 30 days, will be placed in an endowed fund, the William C. Reed, Anna M. Reed, Robert T. Schafer and Olive Reed Schafer Memorial Scholarship Fund. The fund will support deserving students through the university scholarship program.
Schafer died Jan. 16, 2003, at age 96.
?I began teaching when I was 15. I substituted for my high school teachers at Stockton, where I was born and raised," she told a reporter in 1981, when she received her doctorate from Kansas State University. The title of her dissertation was "A Comparative Study of the Subsidization of Repertory Theaters in Germany, Great Britain and the United States."
"There were two things I wanted to do when I was very young," she told the reporter: "teach and grow tall."
"She achieved both," said long-time family friend Earlene Tice, who, with her husband, Ron, is co-executor of Schafer's estate.
"She taught and grew tall. She was very elegant, very tall and very smart," said Tice, noting that Schafer returned to school after the death of her husband, Robert R. Schafer, in 1971. She lived in a Ramada Inn while attaining those advanced degrees and walked across the street to school every day, said Tice.
During her teaching career, Schafer taught school at Bloom Mound, Stockton Grade School, Stockton High School and later at Kansas State University. She was a life member of the FHSU Alumni Association and a member of the FHSU Half-Century Club.
She was married to Robert R. Schafer in 1941. They moved from Stockton to Beloit in 1946. Robert Schafer was employed by the Soil Conservation Service and they owned farm land in Jewell and Rooks counties.Dr. Schafer was a member of the Stockton Congregation Church, Beloit Music Club, P.E.O., Order of the Eastern Star and several bridge groups.
"With the rising costs of higher education, this scholarship will be a tremendous assistance to many Fort Hays State students in the future," said Virgil Scott, president and CEO of the FHSU Endowment Association.