Scheffer was ‘one of the good guys’


Maybe he didn’t wear a white hat, but community advocate John Scheffer was described by a longtime friend as “one of the good guys.”

Scheffer passed away April 5 at the age of 84. A memorial service for him will be held at 1 p.m. today at Zion Lutheran Church in Hollidaysburg.

Scheffer devoted his life to helping others, first serving in the U.S. Army stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, and later through his posts on the boards of many social service agencies.

As neighbor Mahlon Fiscel said, Scheffer saw his mission as giving back to his community.

“John was one of the good guys that you meet in life’s journey,” Fiscel said.

Fiscel met Scheffer when Fiscel and his wife moved to Altoona in 2000 after Fiscel began working at Family Services as executive director. Scheffer at that time was a United Way of Blair County board member and helped on the personnel committee through his job as an engineer with Penelec, now known as First Energy.

He got involved with many nonprofit groups in the area, including Family Services.

Scheffer organized regular meetings at the apartment complex where he lived to keep management updated on the concerns of the residents. Those organizational skills might have come from Scheffer’s background as president of the local union, the Utility Workers Union of America Local 180.

But his community work is what most people recall first, especially his involvement with Blair Senior Services and United Way.

Robin Beck, who at times in her career worked for both agencies, was head of the retired and senior volunteer program at Blair Senior Services when Scheffer was on the United Way board.

She said Scheffer dealt with allocating funds and raising money for United Way and “was always a very strong advocate for social service programs and the community.”

Beck, who later served as executive director of United Way, said Scheffer helped launch the Golden Games, which are part of the Senior Olympics competition.

“It was clear that he wanted everyone in our community to have the opportunity to live a full and successful life,” she said.

Scheffer continued that participation through the years, said current Blair Senior Services President Steve Williamson. Not only did he serve on the board, each year he swam and took part in the track and field event in the Golden Games, Williamson said.

“He was actively involved,” he said, “not just on paper, but actively participated for many, many years.”

Fellow community advocate and former Blair County Commissioner Donna Gority, who served on several boards with Scheffer, agreed.

“He would always speak up and participate in decisions,” she said. “He was also very helpful with his time and resources.”


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