Frank Schaeffer would carve out a 3-mile trail on his tractor every year leading up to he and his wife Sharon’s annual cross country run at their Frizzellburg farm.
Gary Honeman, an active member of the Westminster Road Runners Club, said the event was one of the highlights of his summer. Schaeffer, a former two-time president of the running club, also put on a marathon series of four races every fall that added up to 26.2 miles and they were all held at different places in Carroll County.
Schaeffer, 69, of Westminster, who served more than 30 years in Carroll County government and public service, died Jan. 23 at Carroll Hospital Center from cancer.
“Carroll County afforded him all of these wonderful things that he was passionate about,” Honeman said. “When you think about his public service, he was embedded in this community, both professionally, personally, and recreationally.”
Schaeffer was born and raised in Carroll County and grew up on his family’s farm in Frizzellburg. He graduated from Francis Scott Key High School in 1969 and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Western Maryland College in 1973.
Schaeffer met his wife in a Spanish class at McDaniel, and Sharon Schaeffer said they dated for a long time before marrying in 1980. They celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in October.
“He was very kind, and he liked being outdoors,” she said. “I think he had a good sense of humor and he was a very hard worker.”
Frank Schaeffer furthered his education and received a Master’s in Business Administration from Mount St. Mary’s in 1995. After graduating, he worked for Leon A. Podolak Surveyors and then in Carroll County Government for 31 years.
He served 10 years as the Chief of the Bureau of Development Review, and 13 years as the Deputy Director of Public Works prior to retiring in 2010.
Schaeffer began working as town manager of New Windsor in Sept. 2010, and New Windsor mayor Neal Roop said one of Schaeffer’s accomplishments as such was getting the town’s new wastewater treatment plant up and running.
In doing so, he had to rework the utility rate structure in order to pay for the plant.
“Because of his recommendations and direction in the council, we now have a nice reserve,” Roop said. “When something needs to be replaced, when an emergency comes up with our water and sewer lines, we can now take care of it without having to go get a loan, which puts a harder financial burden on the residents.
“His direction and leadership was instrumental and we’re going to see the benefits of that for many years to come.”
After Schaeffer retired from New Windsor in May 2018, he served as interim town manager for Sykesville the following year from April to October.
“A municipality here in Carroll County needed someone to step up to the plate and he had no problem doing that,” Roop said. “That’s the type of person he was. Sykesville needed somebody and he was capable of providing the services as their town manager on a short-term basis.
“I think everybody that came into contact with Frank here in New Windsor and Sykesville … that’s two municipalities where the mayors and staff are probably better for it.”
Schaeffer was a lifelong runner and he competed in races of all distances, from track runs to marathons. He completed 13 John F. Kennedy 50-milers and Sharon said many of their vacations revolved around race locations, such as Pikes Peak and Key West.
The Schaeffers had two children, Curtis and Kate, and Sharon Schaeffer said her husband was very involved in all of their extracurricular activities, between Curtis’ lacrosse games and Kate’s drama and dance performances.
“He grew up in the farmhouse that’s about 200 yards from where we presently live,” Sharon Schaeffer said. “He didn’t go to far, but they would always joke with him about if he left the county. We did travel quite a bit and went and saw a lot of different things.