WMU News

Robert L. Shafer

March 8, 2004

Robert L. Shafer, associate professor emeritus of English at Western Michigan University, died Feb. 23 at his home in Kalamazoo. He was 79.

Prior to joining the WMU faculty in 1959, Shafer was a teaching fellow at the University of Michigan, from which he earned his bachelor's degree in 1947 and doctoral degree in 1960. He received a master's degree from Harvard University in 1950, and returned to Harvard in 1962-63 on a Carnegie Grant to study Far Eastern and Indian thought and art. He received a grant funded by the Danforth Foundation to study and travel in Asia in 1966, and he received a master's degree in Indian Studies from the University of Wisconsin in 1967. As his interest in Asian literature and religion grew, he traveled frequently, especially to India.

At WMU, Schafer gave several public lectures on Far Eastern culture and religion. In 1975, he organized a campus exhibition of rare Tibetan artifacts and sale of Tibetan woodcut prints. He was a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Association for Asian Studies, Tibet Society, Nepal Studies Association, Buddhist Studies Association and others. He retired in 1993 with more than 34 years service to WMU.

A native of Joliet, Ill., Shafer served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and retired with the rank of Lt. Commander. He was buried with full military honors at Fort Custer National Cemetery near Battle Creek, Mich.

Shafer is survived by his wife of 41 years, Ruth Shafer, and by three children and several grandchildren.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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