Sarah Stultz: A longtime artist and his wish for a show 

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

I often say as a journalist that I have one of the best jobs in the world.

Not only do I have a job where I can learn something new every day, but I get to meet remarkable people who leave an impact on my life. 

Some of these people I only speak with one time for a few minutes, but others I am privileged to run into multiple times because of the nature of the story or their position with an organization or business. 

In October, I had the opportunity to meet a gentleman named Roger Schaefer, who was a longtime painter, and who had a dream of showcasing his artwork. 

Roger was on hospice after battling COPD and lung cancer, but thanks to Mayo Clinic Health System Hospice and the Freeborn County Arts Initiative, Roger’s dream of having his own show became a reality. 

I interviewed Schaefer in his humble apartment ahead of the show. He was wearing oxygen at the time and seemed a little weak, but he was beyond thrilled to have me there and to showcase his work. 

The minute I walked into his apartment, there was evidence of his much-loved hobby all around. On one small table right inside the door there were a couple dozen bottles of acrylic paint, along with paintbrushes and other bowls and cups holding supplies. 

Scattered throughout the living room were about 100 other painted canvases that Roger was eager and willing to sell or give away to others. He said he had already given out between 75 and 100 other paintings to relatives at a family reunion and he hoped to find homes for those that remained. 

Roger said he had started painting in his youth and then picked up the hobby again after his military service in the 1960s. He particularly enjoyed painting mountain and desert scenes from his time living in Arizona, and said painting gave him an outlet to handle the challenges in his life. 

Roger asked that I put his phone number in the article if anyone was interested in looking at his other paintings that were not going to be in the show. 

I remember being hesitant to put his personal number in the article as I did not want anyone to take advantage of him, but I followed through with his wishes and put the number in the story. I hope he received at least a few calls from people in the community. 

I bring up Roger’s story again as I learned this morning that Roger passed away on Christmas Day. 

Even though I only met Roger one time, I was impacted by his story and by those who helped make his dream possible. 

An art lover at heart, I appreciated his passion for painting. More importantly, however, I appreciated his kindness and his positive outlook even amidst major physical challenges. 

We all have much to be thankful for, and today I am thankful for people like Roger who taught me a lesson I’ll always remember. 

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.