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James Schafer

October 10, 1941 ~ March 05, 2017

Service: March 07, 2017 2:00 PM
   Location: Big Sky Chapel, Big Sky, MT

James Arthur Schafer died peacefully on the morning of March 5, 2017, in Big Sky, Montana.  He was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in October 2016, and fought bravely these last five months.  His condition worsened on February 28 and he began hospice on March 2.  Throughout his ordeal, he displayed the utmost courage, compassion, and pragmatism for which he was known and admired.

Known as “Jim” to his friends and family, he was born on October 10, 1941, in Buffalo, New York, to Joseph James Schafer and Gladys Lighty Schafer.  He attended the University of Michigan, earning his B.S. in Biophysics (1963) and Ph.D. in Physiology (1968).  While a junior in college, he fell in love with Margaret (Margy) Anne Schiefer, and they married August 16, 1964.  In 1970, Jim accepted a professorship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine, where he remained for the rest of his distinguished career.

Jim enjoyed hiking, skiing, and being in the mountains.  After retiring, Jim and Margy began to spend more time in their favorite vacation spot – Big Sky, Montana.  One of Jim’s final wishes was to end his days in Big Sky.  He spent his final hours at home, in the arms of his loving wife, looking at the mountains.

Jim is survived by his wife, Margy; his sister, Joan Schafer Ringheim; his two children, James Arthur Schafer, Jr. and Kirsten Schafer Smith; their spouses, Jane Ernestine Lesnick and John “Sage” Vinson Smith; and four grandchildren, Julius James Lesnick Schafer (7), Willow Rose Smith (6), Hazel Rain Smith (3), and Jacob Alessandro Lesnick Schafer (2).

A memorial service was held in Big Sky on March 7, and an additional service will be held in Birmingham later this spring. 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any contributions be made to the UAB Dr. James A. Schafer NRTC Endowed Professorship c/o Christian Smith, UAB Department of Medicine, 1808 7th Ave. South, Birmingham, AL 35294-0012.

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