Posts filed under ‘My Mentor’

That “Mentoring” Woman- Jean Schaeffer

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

January 24, 2008 at 11:25 pm 33 comments



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