Dr. Gary Lee Shaffer, Professor of Social Work and member of the Chapel Hill community, died of colon cancer Friday, September 4, 2009, surrounded by his family and close friends.
Born in Harrisburg, PA on September 30, 1946, he grew up across the Susquehanna River in the town of New Cumberland. He graduated from Cedar Cliff High School where, among other activities, he sang and played football. Studying Social Work throughout, he attended Franklin and Marshall College for his Bachelor’s, the University of Chicago for his Master’s and obtained his Doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1977.
During his 14 years teaching at the U of Illinois he focused on developing the undergraduate social work program, directing a pilot project in the early 1980s studying the utilization of computers in education and was Director of the Region V Child Welfare Training Center. In honor of his service as the BSW director, the U of I is currently in the process of establishing a scholarship award in his name.
In 1986 he began his tenure at UNC-CH in the School of Social Work where he was the Director for the Field Education Program. Since 1999 his attention has been on teaching with particular attention on school social work practice, social work education and international social work. At UNC-CH he took the lead in the development of the Social Work practice in the schools program, supervised over 300 students placed in NC public schools, was responsible for the licensing of school social work practitioners through the NC Department of Public Instruction, and through this process recommended over 500 practitioners for school social work licensure. He worked throughout his career to improve social work education in the United States through the Council on Social Work Education, as well as in numerous international social work programs in Costa Rica, Honduras, and Lithuania, among others.
He demonstrated a life-long passion for protecting children, strengthening families and education. He has been a tireless advocate for the elimination of corporal punishment in the schools – especially in North Carolina. In his personal life he was a dedicated husband, father, a close friend to many, and a man of many talents. He was a musician, gardener, artist, and talented singer who participated in the St. Thomas More choir for more than 20 years. To those in his presence he was always quick with a smile, a witty comment, a candy or some combination of those three.
He is survived by his wife, Denise; his daughter, Lisa; his brother, Gil; numerous nieces and nephews; and his cat, Sadie.
The funeral Mass will be held Wednesday, September 9th at 11 a.m. at St. Thomas More Church in Chapel Hill, NC. In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial contributions be made to UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, UNC-CH CB# 7295, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7295 unclineberger.org/gift/memorialgift.asp, or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital 501 St. Jude Place
Memphis TN 38105 www.stjude.org/waystohelp.
On-line memorials: www.hallwynne.com. Select obituaries.