That “Mentoring” Woman- Jean Schaeffer

January 24, 2008 at 11:25 pm 33 comments

mellow yellow
 by Loraine Ritchey 

January is National Mentoring month (hat tip to Kelly Boyer Sagert) Kelly got me thinking-  apart from mum and dad- what person in your life made a difference, acted as your mentor?

 Jean, as Madam Arcarti Loraine as Elvira- Blithe Spirit -1983 Photos courtesy of  Workshop Players

I have met a lot of wonderful people in my over half a century, in all walks of life, but the one that I have always thought of as my mentor was Jean Schaeffer. Jean, was the wife of Dr. Roy Schaeffer, the Amherst dentist, and mother of four children. Two of the boys, I know, are well known to Lorain readers Dr. John Schaeffer and William Schaeffer of Beaver Park Marina. 

Jean was the “first lady of the theatre” in North East Ohio – as pronounced by a Proclamation signed by State Representative, Joseph  Koziura .

I met Jean when I first arrived in Lorain and became involved with the Chef Henri Dinner Theatre. Jean was also a founding member of Workshop Players, Amherst. Jean worked on, or in, 80 shows at Workshop. She was the director of 20 of those shows including the first musical Workshop Players ever did.

I wrote about Jean not long after she passed away on another January day in my Highland Highlights column “Mothers and Others Part Two”

‘Mothers and Others’- so was the title of the questionnaire. The previous article talked about a mother’s role and also the role of the teacher. Life goes on and in the few short weeks since I sat down and wrote article No.1 life changed. My mentor, friend and anchor, Jean Schaeffer, passed away. She was not a teacher of dance, she was however a teacher of drama, and life. The newspapers have been full of tributes, flowers spilled out into adjoining rooms of the funeral home. The famous and not so famous honored her memory. Jean had a blessed life and she in turn blessed so many. Throughout her time on life’s stage she touched the lives of thousands.

Jean did so much more than take a young actress, teaching her how to walk, to speak, to communicate with the whole being, how to phrase within the lines she taught me through our many years together to develop not only as an actress but as a person. When my children arrived she shared the laughter and the tears, the trials and tribulations.

I only wish that she could now teach me how to deal with the terrible emptiness she has left. Previous articles have shown how a great teacher can touch us not only in the “art form” of choice but our whole being. That is, to me, the definition of a “great teacher”.

I  am still an empty vessel. I miss my friend and mentor and I haven’t “trod the boards” since Jean left the spotlight. She still touches my heart and my soul . Her immortal words of wisdom to me (when I would fly into righteous indignation about life’s happenings) -accompanied with a knowing smile-

This too shall pass!

Jean was my “mentor” –Who is yours?

 Jean (right) in Family Portrait 1957

Entry filed under: My Mentor, Women of Worth.

Big Knickers- Now What? Sunday Link Ups!

33 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  January 25, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Love the look of your site! As far as a mentor, I may need to think about that before answering . . .

  • 2. denise caruloff  |  January 25, 2008 at 12:26 am

    I agree Kelly, it is a very “lady appealing” sight! all tourquise and stuff:) makes me wanna get out my crayons and look at the colours…nothing like a womans touch!

  • 3. muley  |  January 25, 2008 at 5:34 am

    … about that “union jack” theme ? 🙂

  • 4. that woman  |  January 25, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Denise :as a lady I want to appeal to the men too ! Do we think this is too feminine ? II was looking for “easy to read” ….what about that aspect?

    Kelly .think away and share your thoughts please.

    Muley .you never know keep wathcing this space 🙂

  • 5. denise caruloff  |  January 25, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    that woman,

    What i love most it is that is it soothing….and who dont need to be soothed>> hey here is an idea…do the colours like the govt. warn s us of threat levels….i know right now we are at orange…but you pick the colours…and we’ll know exactly how your feeling by them. Right now, here at my neck of the woods, it is RED…threat levlevel is quite high, and i am feeling quite anxious.But this tourquise really does affect me in a positive way.
    oh by the way…anybody have any extra “bond”money lying!!!?

  • 6. that woman  |  January 25, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    hmmmm an idea a ” That Woman Mood level” will play around with that over the weekend. It may be nice if everyone had warning labels ….

  • 7. Paula Tobias  |  January 25, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Let’s get back to the question,”Who is your Mentor”? I’ve had many. Grandmothers, mother, friends who have come and gone. Some very Good Bosses…..
    I saw something the other day on the History Channel about mentors, using the Star Wars mentors Obie Wan (sp?) Yoda etc. It’s interesting how after they are gone you’re so sad, but there’s a part of them in you now to carry on. To mentor others. And Loraine, I’d like to think of you as one of my mentors. I always said, “Some day when I grow up… I wanna be just like Loraine!) Love ya. P

  • 8. Bill Sturgill  |  January 25, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    It’s amazing how many people you know Loraine. I never put things together till you mentioned Dr. John Shaeffer. A couple of years ago I lost one of my best friends, his name was Gilbert Slavik, John did his eulogy, and held a memorial service months later at Beaver North to honor his friend and others with a little lighthouse at that complex, so thru his goodness others will remember.
    When I look at Gilberts passing, its the ” Brian Piccolo story” all over again. I think of him often and remember him well. I can only say there is one person that influenced me most of my life, though I’ve had plenty mentors. I was raised by a single father , which is a tremendously hard thing to do. My choice would have to be my dad.

    Bill Sturgill

  • 9. thatwoman  |  January 25, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Thank you Paula , that really means a lot . I have to say though I too have benefitted from our relationship …., you have more guts than I have lady , to run for Mayor AND as an Independent , that took guts, determination and putting your money where your mouth was….you have my sincere is something I wouldn’t have been brave enough to do.

  • 10. thatwoman  |  January 25, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks for stopping over Bill. I also met a huge number of people through Jean and my time in the area theatres …twenty some years of ” treading the boards”. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Gilbert and John … six degrees of separation comes to mind only in this town I think it is more like 3 🙂

  • 11. thatwoman  |  January 25, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Alright I have my mood “flags” and a hat tip to Muley on this one 🙂
    The first today – Mellow Yellow- as in my Mentoring article
    Red ( Warning Will Robinson)
    Blue ( as I can be)
    Green ( it ain’t easy)
    Pink/Rose ( coming up roses)
    maybe more colours of my mood rainbow as time goes on Loraine

  • 12. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  January 25, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    My father’s mother was one of the first women to be graduated from Akron University, and she majored in literature. She loved books and she loved learning new things — and I think much of my own love of books came from her.

    My mother’s mother always told just the right anecdote about her younger life and this taught me a unique way of looking at life.

    I’d mentioned to Loraine already that, when I was 10, a Lorain librarian allowed me to check out books from the grown up side of the library, even though I was supposed to be 12 to do so. She said that she trusted me to want to do that for the right reasons . . . which I did. I couldn’t — and still can’t — get enough of reading. Although that doesn’t make the librarian a mentor, per se, that changed my life.

  • 13. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  January 25, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    The Muley Mood Monitoring System . . .

  • 14. that woman  |  January 25, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    I like that in fact Kelly you now can break open the bottle of champagne ( 3:19 pm GMT.. told you there would be advantages to being 5 hours ahead of time) ) as we launch the Muley Mood Monitoring System See Wednesday article for further details . Loraine

  • 15. denise caruloff  |  January 25, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    so many colours, so little time!
    I have driven to “Mentor”…does that count?
    Mentor Headlins..what a great beach!

  • 16. Kaye Coller  |  January 26, 2008 at 2:30 am

    I thought a lot of Jean Schaeffer too. She was a beautiful woman with her own style. I was never in a play with her, but I too knew her from Workshop. Loraine – come back to the theater. Workshop is thriving and there’s always opportunities for good actors.

  • 17. thatwoman  |  January 26, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks for stopping by Kaye. The first time I saw Jean I was “sussing”out the Chef Henri Dinner Theatre, since I was “new” to the area and the country, Dave Sudy suggested I attend a rehersal to see what they were all about.

    I remember Jean ( didn’t know who she was) trying to work with a young actress , who was having none of her suggestions and was iritated, I watched as Jean in her remarkable lady like manner got her to follow her suggestion on the phrasing and technique, which totally enhanced the girl’s lines and part.
    I said to myself, if I ever have a chance to work with this woman I will stand on my head if she told me too. She was truly a great actress and friend. Her madam Arcarti and “her” Merlin and then there was Mame! I could go on…….. as for returning….we will see… but in the meantime Workshop is WOW as Henery would say and I urge all readers to either audition or attend their performances. Loraine

  • 18. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  January 26, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    I can hardly wait until Wednesday!

  • 19. thatwoman  |  January 26, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Kelly : my mood flag for Monday’s article is red that will give you a hint of things to come 🙂

  • 20. Dave Cotton  |  January 28, 2008 at 3:50 am

    excellent article written by a woman I admire about a woman who was one of my mentors as well!

    I miss Jean too
    no dry eyes here!

    keep up the good work!


  • 21.  |  January 30, 2008 at 5:02 am

    […] That ???Mentoring??? Woman- Jean Schaeffer […]

  • 22. Don Wozniak  |  February 1, 2008 at 3:48 am

    And like any good voyeur, I have simply been lurking and reading your prose and sometimes poetry on WOM and now here. I learned from you, and Jean, and Valerie, and Rudy, and Dave, and a host of others. I miss (in person) your presence, your wit, your sarcasm, and your honesty and this blog *&*#$* is merely a poor substitute for actual interaction. I echo what Kaye said – come back to the five and dime, Loraine, Loraine, or at least let come see a Workshop show now and then and come out and have a toddy and a banter with us poor sods. I for one would love to talk with you again with voice and not keyboard.

  • 23. Don Wozniak  |  February 1, 2008 at 3:52 am

    And is it not appropriate that the timestamp on this thing is GMT? Did you ask for that, or does it come that way?

  • 24. thatwoman  |  February 1, 2008 at 4:22 am

    Well Don ( whom I was married to what was it twice or three times……you did look good in tights :)….maybe one of these days .ME sarcastic NEVER SIR, WHO SIR? ME SIR? NO SIR!! you have the wrong Loraine, I am that sweet , shy retiring little mouse ( cough cough cough )
    The site came with GMT and I could change it but I like it ….as I can say the post will be up on Friday but I can publish 5 hours early and it is still Friday….and therefore I have my own little time line world 🙂

  • 25. A Captain- My Captain « That Woman’s Weblog  |  February 11, 2008 at 12:51 am

    […] persuaded Renee to leave me the documents and started to piece the tale together, my theatrical background switched into overdrive, in my mind I saw the play , the movie that could be made from this…. […]

  • […] Jean Schaeffer would often remark- when reading a script- about a line or group of words “Now there is a phrase you can really get your teeth into . […]

  • 27. I think- therefore I am- Friday « That Woman’s Weblog  |  August 22, 2008 at 11:31 am

    […] I sat and smiled and remembered Jean Schaeffer ” Loraine never criticize anything that you aren’t prepared to […]

  • 28. eric taylor  |  March 13, 2009 at 1:59 am

    I was searching the interent today and stumbled across this page Jean Schaeffer was my grandmother and i casn remember spending countless hours in the costume room they had at their house putting on shows for her and her helping it brings back such great memories and thank you all for your kind comments of such an extraordinary women


  • 29. thatwoman  |  March 13, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Your Grandmother was one of the dearest and most wonderful women I have ever known.She had charm and grace and I will always remember her words when I would get into a “tizzwoz” about something or other ” this too will pass” has held me in great stead….I thank her family for sharing her with us Loraine

  • […] that is what my mentor Jean Schaeffer would have said- and yes! I could see her playing the Maggie Smith role. Jean taught me a great […]

  • […] Jean Schaeffer uttered that line from Maxwell Anderson’s play, time and time again , as she was Elizabeth the 1st to my Mary Queen of Scots. Jean ( Elizabeth would bring Mary to her knees with every performance whilst bringing an audience to their feet. […]

  • […] persuaded Renee to leave me the documents and started to piece the tale together, my theatrical background switched into overdrive, in my mind I saw the play , the movie that could be made from this…. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed



Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 231 other subscribers
January 2008

%d bloggers like this: