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Mark E. Schaefer

Died: April 13, 1992

Mark Schaefer entered Yale from Central Catholic High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana and majored in mathematics. He earned a Ph.D in economics from MIT, graduating in 1977. His life-long ambition to teach was fulfilled when he joined the faculty of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He focused on health economics and was very interested in the possibilities of using computers and computer inquiries for diagnostic purposes. But he was also known as an engaging professor, encouraging students to range broadly in their thinking and supporting those seeking career choices and academic advice.

He was planning to take early retirement and begin a career as a professional mediator when rapid-acting pancreatic cancer was discovered. Upon his death on April 13, 1992, at the age of 48, the Economics Department established a small award in Mark’s name (Mark E. Schaefer MA in Economics Award), given to the outstanding masters student in economics. The funds for this award were given in memory of Mark at the time he died.

Mark was survived by his wife, Karen (of Atlanta), as well as a brother, a sister, and their families. He had an active life beyond teaching. His relatives made particular mention of a hobby, English country dancing.

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Bruce Seaman, Former Chair of the Economics Department, remembers:

To some extent he had removed himself from active involvement in the economics department, so the perception of many of us that this clearly bright and talented man had not entirely engaged as much as he could have in both the academic life of an economist, and the life of a faculty colleague. I recall quite clearly the poignancy of his prematurely having to clear out his office as he was leaving the university to begin aggressive medical treatments for his cancer, and his efforts to ensure that graduate students were able to get most of his books that he would no longer need. It was sobering to say the least, and one of the biggest downers of my time as chair.

Those of us who attended the memorial service for him near Chastain Park were struck and impressed not only by the huge crowd that was there, but also by the testimonials that indicated how active Mark had been in all sorts of community organizations and social groups, with a truly diverse network of friends and associates. He was remembered with humor and affection by his spouse and many others. My own personal dealings with him, as department chair, were always cordial.

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Paula Stephan, colleague, remembers:

He had a rich social life outside the department and was only minimally involved with other faculty members. This may, of course, reflect his wisdom in choosing friends — economists are not always the most lively group around! When Mark did attend get-togethers of the department — such as Thanksgiving dinners in the early years — he was notorious for contributing a salad by stopping at Kroger to buy a packet of celery or carrots, generally not removed from the bag — and reminding us that “salad” could mean a bag of unwashed carrots. It was a long standing source of amusement in the department and something that we all remember about Mark. Social pressure did not affect his behavior!

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Jack Blicksilver, colleague, remembers:

I retired from the Economics Department at GSU last June (1992) after 36 years of teaching, the last twenty as Mark’s colleague, the past four or five years with an office directly across from him.

I found Mark to be an altogether admirable person: a dedicated teacher who loved working closely with students, especially those in the honors program; an honorable, kindly, cooperative colleague, happy to his share of the drudgery of academia. He was almost always upbeat and in good spirits. Just as he inspired and led the way during his teaching career, when Mark became desperately ill, he exhibited a shining example as to how to accept adversity. When I visited him the week before left us, he was warm, friendly, accepting of his unjust fate, appreciative of the novel I brought, and loving toward Karen who arrive later from Grady H.S. To the best of his ability, he was savoring life to the very last.