Henry & Elaine Schaeffer

(From the June 2007 SteepleTalk Senior Spotlight, probably written by Mitzi Manning. Thanks to Val Berry, who archived these articles.)

Our Senior Saint Spotlight couple this month is Mr. and Mrs. Henry Schaefer. If you attend the 9:30 service, they need no introduction, as they have been ushering at that service for many years. What you may not know about them is that they met and fell in love while members of the Fairlington United Methodist’s Singles Sunday School Class in the 1980’s, and were married in

our sanctuary on August 23, 1986.

Henry William Schaefer was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island on Valentine’s Day in 1936. He is a first generation American, as his father, Henry, was from Mannheim, Germany and his mother, Pauline Aldinger, was from the village of Dennach in the Black Forest region of southern Germany. 

Henry was raised and schooled in Pawtucket, and graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1958. Henry was in ROTC, and upon graduation was commissioned a 2nd

Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He trained at the Engineer Officers Basic Course at Ft. Belvoir for 3 months, and then served the remaining 3 months on active duty with the 20th Engineer Battalion at Ft. Devens, MA. The remaining 5½ years of his

commitment was with the Army Reserves in Virginia.

Once his active duty for training was completed in

March 1959, Henry went to work for Sperry Rand in Charlottesville, VA as a junior design engineer on

shipboard navigational equipment. In November 1966, he accepted employment at the Belvoir Research

Development and Engineering Center (BRDEC). During this time, Henry was married, and he and his

wife had three children: David, Linda, and Ellen. Henry worked at BRDEC until September 1995 - a total

of 29 years, 8 months. At the time of his retirement from government service, Henry had worked his way

up to the prestigious position of Chief of Engineer Construction Equipment.

Elaine Marie Barber was born on August 30, 1940 in Winter Haven, FL to George Ralph Barber and Nellie

Gladys Struthers Barber. She attended school in Winter Haven, FL, graduating from Winter Haven High

School in 1958. She attended Andrew Junior College in Cuthbert, GA, receiving her AA degree in 1960. She then enrolled at Florida State University at Tallahassee, FL where she received a B.A. in sociology, with a minor in recreation, in 1962. Her first job after college was with the Middle Georgia Girl Scout Council in Macon as a Field Advisor. She worked in professional scouting for five years, leaving to follow her first husband to Virginia, where she took a job as personnel assistant with Acacia Mutual Life Insurance in Washington, D.C. 

After 7 ½ years with the insurance company, Elaine changed direction and went to work at The Urban Land Institute (ULI) in Washington, DC. From 1974 until 2006, Elaine worked her way up from a secretary in the Meetings Department to Director, Council Programs. Although working full time for the entire time, Elaine still found room on her schedule to continue in Girl Scouting, and became a troop leader. Her service to scouting in one capacity or another has continued for 58 years. She received the Girl Scout Thanks Badge for her service in the Middle Georgia Girl Scout Council and the Thanks 2 badge for work done in the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital (GSCNC). She remains an active trainer, serves on the “Sing-A-Long” Committee, and has a teen troop.

Elaine discovered Fairlington Church in 1968 and by 1969 had joined. She became a member of the Chancel Choir and sang with them for many years until marrying Henry, when she started attending the 9:30 service. She still sings with the Seraphim Choir for special music Sundays. 

Henry came to Fairlington in 1981. By then, both he and Elaine were divorced and, as fate would have it, both ended up in the Fairlington Singles class. The rest, as they say, is history. On August 23, 1986, Henry and Elaine became husband and wife at their church home, Fairlington UMC.

After his retirement in 1995, Henry spent four years working for the Radian Corporation in Alexandria,

and has since taken a permanent part time position with ULI in their advertising department. Since her

retirement in August 2006, Elaine has continued a busy schedule with GSCNC and has recently gotten involved with the Aged to Perfection group at Fairlington. Both she and Henry continue to usher at the 9:30 service.

Travel has been a big part of the Schaefer’s lives, as they have traveled extensively throughout the United

States, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as to many overseas destinations. They traveled to Germany

to help Henry’s cousins celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in Mannheim, and they have enjoyed

a “time share” in Austria which allowed them many day trips through eastern Austria and cities in southern Germany. Elaine’s Girl Scouting work took her to Switzerland, where the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) have a world center called “Our Chalet.” Henry and Elaine enjoy visiting Henry’s children, and, of course, are very proud of David’s boys - Travis, 16, and Michael, 15, Linda’s son Nicholas, 13, and Ellen’s girls Makena, 7, and Allison, 5.

The Schaefer’s enjoy the people at Fairlington, and Elaine particularly likes the choir. They both feel that

Fairlington is a “second home” for them.