State Del. Edward G. 'Nipper' Schafer dies at 63 He collapses at political softball game

September 01, 1993|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

Edward G. "Nipper" Schafer, a Rosedale trash hauler who earned a seat in the House of Delegates last February after serving 43 years in Dundalk politics, collapsed and died last night as he ran to first base during a softball game with colleagues.

Mr. Schafer, 63, whose burly, 6-foot-5-inch frame contrasted with his low-key style, fell about 7:30 p.m. during a head-to-head softball match between the Baltimore County Democratic and Republican Central committees.

The game, at the Sheppard Pratt Hospital athletic field near Towson, was about an hour old when Mr. Schafer collapsed, said Kevin Kamenetz, chairman of the county Democratic Central Committee and one of Mr. Schafer's teammates last night.

"Nipper was running for first base when he fell over," Mr. Kamenetz said. "He never regained consciousness. . . . Everyone was just devastated."

A Central Committee member, Dr. Daniel Morhaim, attempted to BTC resuscitate Mr. Schafer, but was unsuccessful.

Mr. Schafer, whose son Edward Schafer Jr. was also at the game, was pronounced dead a short while later at St. Joseph Hospital, a spokeswoman said last night.

A member of the Democratic Central Committee since 1978, he kept his seat on the panel when he was named to the House of Delegates vacancy created when John S. Arnick left to take a controversial appointment to a District Court judgeship.

At the time of Mr. Schafer's appointment to the 7th District seat, Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr., D-Baltimore County, called Mr. Schafer the best possible choice to succeed Mr. Arnick because of his steady and easygoing personality.

"I just want to see the thing done with the least number of people upset," Senator Stone said just before Mr. Schafer's appointment. "He [Mr. Schafer] seems to be somebody who everybody can agree on."

In the past, his colleagues have described Mr. Schafer as a friendly, loyal committee member who had been a poll worker since 1950. Senators were hopeful that he would be the best choice for a quick, quiet vote following the Arnick controversy. He would have served out the final two years of Mr. Arnick's term and then could have chosen to run for election to a full term in 1994.

Mr. Arnick subsequently withdrew from the judgeship amid a firestorm of criticism that he made degrading remarks about women. Gov. William Donald Schaefer's press secretary, Paige Boinest, said Mr. Arnick is to be named to a legal position with the state, although a date for his appointment hasn't been set.

Mr. Kamenetz recalled Mr. Schafer a "quiet, friendly guy with a big heart."

"He was a big guy, but his personality belied his size," he said. "That's why he was the perfect selection after all that controversy. He was a low-key person who could get the job done and not offend anyone.

"Nipper wasn't a grandstander.

But he was diligent and he would get things done in a quiet way, with common sense. You could always count on him to be there, even for something like the softball game. It was the first time we had anything like that and he looked forward to it."

Mr. Kamenetz said he is unsure who the Central Committee will select to fill Mr. Schafer's seats in the House of Delegates and on the Democratic Central Committee. Those decisions will be made after future discussion, he said.

Mr. Schafer, who lived in the 8300 block of Pulaski Highway, grew up on his parents' Rosedale farm. He once said in an interview that he got his nickname when he was 3 or 4, but was never quite sure why.

He owned and operated Schafer's Trash Removal, which collects residential and commercial trash in Essex.

"There's a lot of pros and cons about trash," the veteran political operative said once when asked about the environmental implications of the trash he hauls. "Nobody wants it, but everybody's got it."

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