Obituary: Doug Schaefer
August 21, 2023
Douglas Jerome Schaefer, 59, died August 9, 2023, in New Rockford, N.D. Doug died a natural death, without seeking medical intervention, in accordance with deeply held beliefs he formed based on his many years working in nature.
Doug was born April 7, 1964, in New Rockford to James and Darlene (Kruger) Schaefer. He graduated from New Rockford High School in 1982, from Princeton University in 1986 (BA in Economics/Economic History), and from Northwestern University in 1989 (MA in Economics).
After college graduation, Doug married Emily Schuette; although they later divorced, they remained friends.
Doug was a kind and gentle soul. He had wide-ranging interests; a searching intelligence; and a deep, abiding love of nature and all living things. Doug was a tireless traveler, a voracious reader, and possessed an understated, unassuming but unquenchable curiosity and thirst for knowledge.
After his high school years as a multi-sport athlete, Doug was a member of his college track and field team, and remained passionate about golf and tennis throughout his life.
Doug lived a simple life, largely indifferent to material things, and was at his happiest being in nature, whether on casual "birding" excursions or during his ornithological research on four continents as a field biologist.
Doug's intellectual interests initially led to studies in economics and business administration. After graduating from Princeton, Doug studied in an MBA program at the University of Texas, Austin, before moving on to his graduate studies at Northwestern.Between 1989 and 1995, Doug worked in Houston, Texas and for an NGO, based out of Washington, D.C.
Seeking different challenges and looking to serve, Doug joined the Peace Corps in 1996.
Doug's two and a half years as a Peace Corps volunteer working in conservation in Guatemala sparked new interests in conservation, evolutionary biology, and birds.
Between 1998 and 2005, Doug worked as a field biologist, studying birds in the Central Coast of California (Monterey County), Alaska, Kentucky, Venezuela, Papua New Guinea, and Northwestern Australia.
Although his earlier post-secondary studies were in economics, not the biological sciences, Doug was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation grant, which led to doctoral studies, between 2005 and 2011, in evolutionary biology and ornithology at the University of California, Berkeley, the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, and the University of Kentucky. His NSF grant also funded his field research in South Africa for nine-month stints for three consecutive years during the later 00s while he was engaged in his doctoral studies at the Australian National University.
Unfortunately, the years of rigorous work as a field biologist conducting solitary research in wild, undeveloped nature preserves, forests, and savannahs around the globe exacted a physical toll. Doug spent his final years working various jobs at golf courses and in manufacturing, banking, and retail as well as providing care and support to family members.
Doug is survived by his mother, Darlene Daugherty, New Rockford; four siblings, Greg (Teresa Erickson) Schaefer, Minneapolis, Minn.; Brad (Leslie) Schaefer, Grand Junction, Colo.; Monty (Tori) Schaefer, New Rockford and Susan (Tim) Hanson, Fargo, N.D.; and seven nieces and nephews and their extended families.
He was preceded in death by his father, James William Schaefer; two stepfathers, (Tollef Skaar and Elder Daugherty), and a sister, Joan Schaefer.
Doug will be missed, but his family and friends celebrate with the comfort that Doug's spirit can now soar with the birds he so loved and studied and that his earthly pain and environmental despair are over.
No memorial services are planned. Donations preferred to bird/wildlife or environmental 501(c)(3) organizations.
Arrangements by Evans Funeral Home, Carrington and New Rockford, N.D.