By Jennifer Greuel
The North Dakota Horizons team was saddened last week with the news of the passing of one of North Dakota’s legends, Sheila Schafer. In January, I had the pleasure of being one of a group of Bismarck-Mandan young professionals who attended a roundtable event featuring Sheila. A bubbly and energetic speaker, the 91-year-old recounted tales of her life and her dedication to her late husband, Harold Schafer; Medora; and the whole of North Dakota.
Sheila spoke of her exciting upbringing as the daughter of the entrepreneur that owned the Crystal Ballroom in Fargo, of meeting performing celebrities and learning the value of hard work. She recounted how she married Harold in 1965, going on to enthusiastically say they renewed their vows around the world 25 times before he passed away in 2001. She shared with the large group her husband’s persistence in the face of obstacles, the history of his Gold Seal Company (which he started in his basement in Bismarck), and the process of trials and errors with products such as the famous Mr. Bubble. Harold would go on to sell his successful company in 1986 in order to focus on the couple’s dream, turning Medora into a tourist attraction. It was through Harold and Sheila’s hard work that Medora was transformed into the largest tourist destination in North Dakota.
I feel privileged to have met this vivacious woman, who was one of the largest cheerleaders for North Dakota in recent history. Harold and Sheila have now both passed, but their legacy will live on through their work in Medora and their constant faith in the state of North Dakota.
Photo Credit: YP Network (Left to Right) Larry Skogen, Jerry Haas, Sheila Schafer, Amy Brown, and Chance Schmidt