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SCHAEFER, Harry George

October 18, 1936 – October 23, 2011

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Harry Schaefer on Sunday, October 23, 2011 at the age of 75 years.

Harry was born, raised and lived most of his life in Calgary. He attended University of Alberta where he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1957. He became a chartered accountant two years later with KPMG (Riddell Stead) and joined TransAlta Utilities in 1963. He continued to work for TransAlta in many financial roles culminating in the role of Chief Financial Officer until he retired in 1993. He served as Chairman of the Board of TransAlta for five years ending in 1996. With his expertise in financing and corporate takeovers, and his leadership on corporate governance and ethics issues, Harry served as a director and audit committee chair of many prestigious boards, including TransCanada Corporation, Telus, Agrium, Fording Coal, Sun Life and Mount Royal University. In recognition of his accomplishments, he was honoured by many organizations including being named a Fellow of the Alberta Institute of Chartered Accountants, and a Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Directors, as well as receiving the Frank Capon Distinguished Service Awards for FEI Canada and the Lifetime Achievement Award for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta. Together with his successful business career, Harry had a wonderful personal life and a cherished family.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Joanne, three children and their spouses, Kathy (Steve), Karen (Dien) and Rob (Barb); seven grandchildren Joel, Kristi, Julia, Danny, Cameron, James and Michael; his brother Ernie; his sister and brother-in-law Ruth and Bill Kerr; six nieces and nephews Chris (Yvonne) and Andrew, Doug (Beth), Mel, Jennifer and Donni (Scott). His mother and father, Kate and Ernst, and his sister-in-law, Dorothy predeceased him.

Harry had many interests and lived his life to the fullest. He enjoyed hobbies of golf, tennis, bicycling, and most particularly, photography and computers. Harry loved capturing spectacular images of the people and places he treasured and sharing them with his friends and family on Flickr, and just recently, Google+. This fascination with technology was an example of Harry’s drive to learn, to be on the leading edge and to improve himself and his knowledge of everything of interest to him. A mentor and friend to many, his integrity, honesty, and compassion left an enduring impression on so many people that he knew. His love of life, his optimism and his grace will be deeply missed.

Please join us in a celebration of Harry’s life at McINNIS & HOLLOWAY’S Park Memorial Chapel (5008 Elbow Drive S.W.) on Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. Condolences may be forwarded through www.mcinnisandholloway.com. In lieu of flowers, please send your donations to The Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary (3330 Hospital Drive N.W., Calgary, AB., T2N 1N4. Cheques must payable to the University of Calgary in memory of Harry Schaefer to be directed to the fund in his name) or to a charity of your choice.

When we think of Harry we think of this poem:
You can shed tears that he is gone
Or you can smile because he has lived
You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
Or you can be full of love that you shared
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
You can remember him only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn you back
Or you can do what he would want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
By David Harkins

In living memory of Harry Schaefer, a tree will be planted at Big Hill Springs Park Cochrane by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES Park Memorial Chapel, 5008 ELBOW DRIVE S.W. Telephone: (403)243-8200.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Gerry & Anna Maier :

    Joanne, you, your family and millions of others are suffering an indescribable loss. We are all grieving with you— and with good reason!
    All who knew Harry had the privilege of knowing not only one of the broadest, brightest minds, but also one of the most gentle and compassionate gentlemen
    of our era.
    You were a big part of him!
    Gerry & Anna Maier

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  2. Barbara Hall and Chuck Dunlop :

    Kathy and family,
    Our thoughts are with you during this time. May you cherish the happy memories with your father and grandfather.
    Love,
    Barbara and Chuck

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  3. Iconic Harry Schaefer will live on in the “Mentor Hall of Fame”. So many of us were his ‘students’ and he will live on in all of us….forever. What a legacy! Our best wishes to Joanne and family.

    Jim Dinning

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  4. Leonard Waverman :

    It was a pleasure and honor to get to know Harry in my 3 years here, a gentleman and a deep thinker.

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  5. You know how much I loved Harry. He was truly an amazing man who made such a difference to me, to so many others, to companies and to Canada as a whole. He will live on in my and many others’ memories as well as the governance legacy he has left throughout Canada. When I did a tribute to Harry at the ICD breakfast this morning, we gave Harry a standing ovation – for quite a long while. My thoughts, prayers and positive energy are with you. I will be in Washington DC unable to be at the celebration of life, but I am with you in mind and spirit. Sarah

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  6. Harry’s great love of life, laughter, learning and ideals bound him closely to all he met. Never content to rest on his own laurels, he also burned with a great passion to share what he’d learned with everyone around him. “Come and take delight with me”, he’d seem to say, grinning widely and daring us with his twinkling blue eyes to have just as much fun as he did. Knowing Harry was to experience adventure and awe and a profound respect for the wonders of our world, whether they be intellectual or physical.

    We will all miss Harry, but you are absolutely right. He would have wanted us to “smile, open our eyes, love and go on”. And so we shall, helped each step of the way by everything we learned from Harry himself.

    Much love to you, Joanne, and to all the family, Elaine

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  7. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Harry was a terrific man and one I’m sure made you proud.
    I worked with Harry on the formation of a Women’s Network focused on the attraction and retention of female talent in the Oil Patch. Rarely on the same page, we laughed a lot, argued a little, shared many experiences and eventually came to an understanding of the best path forward. I loved working with Harry. He was like a big kid – curious, enthusiastic, and energetic.

    He will be missed. My thoughts are with you and your family.

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  8. It is with deep sadness that I have to write this note of condolences. I met Harry when I was working on his nomination to the Frank Capon award for oustanding work with FEI Canada. In doing so, not only did I get an opportunity to meet with and get an increased appreciation of the contribution he made to the companies he worked for but also the tremendous volunteer work at FEI and ICD and other endeavours within the community. While he had an outstanding career, the thoughful and caring attitude towards making the world a better place to live and work in will be missed. I will too.
    God bless,
    Ian

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  9. Jim and Debbie Gardiner :

    Dear Joanne and Family

    Please accept our sympathies on Harry’s sudden passing. While serving on Fording’s Board he gained our respect and appreciation. He was a person who walked the talk in doing the right things the right way. We have nothing but positive memories of him and want to pass on our respects and good wishes to you and your family. May you find strength and joy in the memories that will live on.

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  10. Please accept my sincere condolences and deepest sympathy on your loss. May the outpouring of sympathy, the kind acts of friends and strangers and the comfort in knowing that your loss is felt by many, help you through this difficult time.

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  11. Gerry and Lois Rosenquist :

    Joanne and family:

    So sorry to hear of Harry’s sudden passing. Lois and I remember him fondly from your time in Montreal and subsequently your move back to Alberta.
    It’s good to know that you have lots of local family to support you although the loss of your life’s partner is never easy.
    May God help you through this.

    Gerry and Lois

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  12. Dear Joanne ,

    I would like to express my sincere condolences in the passing of your husband. Nice to read the obituary and learn of your husband’s full life.

    Sincerely
    Bill Penner

    We have spoken on a few occasions at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert.

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  13. neil and blanche carragher :

    Blanche and I are indeed sad to hear that Harry has passed away. Not only was he a great board member but we had a shared passion for photography . Many a discussion ensued for who had the latest gear and best shots (photographic not golf ). With his gentle prodding, Agrium was transformed into a world player .
    Our respects to the family. Neil and Blanche.

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  14. Crystal Basler :

    Although we have never met, I want to tell you how sad I was to hear of Mr. Schaefer’s passing. I was on the pathway right behind him the day of his accident. Please take comfort in knowing that he was never alone as there were about 5 of us that were right with him the entire time. An off duty fireman was one of those among us who worked relentlessly on Mr. Schaefer until help arrived and should be commended for his efforts. Mr. Schaefer sounds like he was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and outstanding citizen and was someone you could truly be proud of.
    Should you need anything now or in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Please Take Care.

    Crystal Basler

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  15. Larry Pangracs :

    Please accept my condolences on Harry’s passing. I had the privilege knowing him as CFO and Chairman of the Board at TransAlta. He was an incredible role model

    Sincerely

    Larry Pangracs

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  16. Our sincere condolences to the family from Gerry (the old badminton partner) and Sally Stotts

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  17. Joanne, Rick and I are so sincerely sorry about Harry’s passing. He was a true gentleman in the best sense of the word and I know you will miss him tremendously and always. We have you in our thoughts at this very difficult time.

    Janet Dawson

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  18. Karen Crowe Leakey :

    This is sooo sad & bizarre to me. I am sooo sorry for your loss. You have my utmost compassion. I believe that you will see him again, and Harry will be watching over your family until you do. I hope that you believe that. Much Love,

    Karen

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  19. Michael Conway :

    Everyone at Financial Executives International Canada were shocked and deeply saddened to learn of Harry’s passing.

    Harry contributed to and was instrumental in many areas of our organization. He served as Calgary Chapter President & FEI Canada Chair, during which time he played a key role making FEI Canada the autonomous and distinctly Canadian organization it is today.

    It was my distinct pleasure to recognize Harry a few years ago for his outstanding work by presenting him with The Frank S. Capon Distinguished Service Award, FEI Canada’s highest volunteer honour.

    Harry truly exemplified the traits and characteristics of our country’s top financial executives, and he was a role model for the next generation of leaders. Anyone who met Harry was engaged by the warmth of his personality. There is no doubt that he will be greatly missed.

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  20. Carolyn Dahl Rees :

    I was at work when I learned Harry had died and was instantly grief-stricken. What an inspiration Harry was to me along the way, plus what tremendous fun to be around. I retreated to my office to be alone for awhile and recalled seeing Harry at a funeral earlier this year. There was a very long and solemn lineup afterward to speak with the widow and family. I spotted Harry with another former executive from TransAlta and wove through the line to chat about the ‘good old days’. We began chuckling quietly over something, that is except for Harry, who pealed forth with his huge roaring laugh which penetrated the entire room. A number of people turned and stared, somewhat cooly.

    A quintessential moment with Harry.

    Remembering him really does bring a smile. Joanne and family, I think your poem has nailed it.

    With warmest wishes,

    Carolyn Dahl Rees

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  21. Harry was a fine man and mentor to many. With good humour and wide ranging interests he provided sage advice and counsel to all of us lucky enough to have associated with him. I had the opportunity to prepare the nomination for the Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in its centenary year of 2010. I was very impressed by the wide range of his achievments and the immense contribution he made to so many organizations.

    My condolences to Joanne and family.

    Steve Glover

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  22. Rob and Family,

    Our sincere condolences to you and your family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you in this time of sorrow.

    Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. ~From a headstone in Ireland

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  23. Barbara Mallory Paterson :

    Dear Joanne and Family:

    I am greatly saddened to hear of Harry’s passing. He was a wonderful man – my Dad Charlie was a great fan of Harry’s both professionally and personally. I had the opportunity to talk with you and Harry last Spring (2010) in Banff – it had been many years. It was great to see you both. I can only imagine the heartache you must feel – my thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

    Barbara Mallory Paterson, Toronto

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  24. Dee and Larry Aguilar :

    With Great sorrow we hear of Harry’s passing but every moment we will remember him and take the life lessons and live our lives in honour of Harry! To our wonderful Joanne we send all our love and hearts in the time of great need! We love you both and always will! Harry had great vision and will always see him and his work as a great memory or a incredible man! Oh Joanne, anything you need please let us know!
    Sincerely,
    With all our Hearts
    Larry and Dee Aguilar

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  25. The FEI Calgary chapter offers sincere condolences on the loss of iconic Harry. We will all miss him deeply but forever remember him through the many ways he touched our lives, chapter and community. A true gentleman, role model and mentor with passionate drive to making the world a better place to live and work in.

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  26. Jeannie and David Finch :

    Dear Joanne and Rob, and the rest of the family,
    Thank you so much for sharing your Harry with the world. He was an inspiration and a guide for so many of us, and we know he loved you all more than anything in the world.
    Very truly,
    Jeannie and David Finch

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  27. Rob and Family – I am so saddened to hear of Harry’s passing. It was a privilege to know him over the years at TransAlta. We had a wonderful visit at our AGM this year and I will truly treasure having shared that time with him.

    My sincere condolences.
    Joan Allen

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  28. Kimbull McAndrew :

    Please accept my condolences for your sudden loss. I had a great respect for Harry when I knew him at TransAlta and later when he was on the Board at TransCanada.

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  29. Glenda McKee, ICD National Office on behalf of Robert Després, O.C., G.O.Q., 2009 ICD Fellow :

    My sincere sympathy to Joanne and family. It is a great loss for you, your friends and business associates but an even greater one for Canada which cannot afford at this time to loose such a great man as Harry.

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  30. Glenda McKee, ICD National Office on behalf of Nathalie Francisci, President of the ICD Quebec Chapter :

    Please accept our sympathies from the IAS Quebec to you and your family. I did not have the opportunity to meet with Harry but I heard great things about him, he was recognized in his profession and as a Director.

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  31. Dee and Larry Aguilar :

    Creator
    It was our friend Harry’s time.
    But we wanted you to know all that he meant to us.
    So many people saw Harry in all kinds of roles.
    Grandfather, Father, Husband, Friend, Business Associate,
    Mentor, Educator and the Man with the Highest Standards.
    What he meant to all of us in this world left behind.
    Is so much more a simple man with the biggest heart!
    Warmest Laugh, Gentle Spirit when you needed one to be.
    One who was willing to take you out back and give you a talking to when you needed it?
    A visionary of his world, his Google + and Flicker showed you his world via his many lenses.
    His love of the computer world, MAC man he was!
    Incredible still images that he captured everyone special in the eyes of Harry.
    The love of a bird, sunset, or something you made he cherished everything!
    His Family, Friends and many colleagues will always remember the man who quietly changed all our lives.
    For him, his love of Joanne, his travel adventures, many homes, his bike all kept him grounded.
    May all of us remember Harry, and have a Harry day everyday!
    Thank you for allowing us to know this Great Man, Harry George Schaefer.
    1936 – 2011
    Creator Bless Joanne and the Sons and Daughters and Grandchildren

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  32. Harry will be sorely missed. I had the great privilege of introducing Harry for his lifetime achievement award from ICAA, and he became a valued mentor to me. What a wonderful man!
    My sincere condolences to Joanne and your family.

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  33. Michael Robinson :

    Mrs. Schaefer and Family – Please accept my condolences on the passing of Harry. He played a key role during the development of the Director’s Education Program in Calgary and his sessions were always greatly appreciated by all the participants. It was a great pleasure to work with him and to learn from him. His wisdom will be missed.

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  34. Walter & Elizabeth Retzer :

    We were very saddened to hear of Harry’s passing. We would like to extend our sincerest sympathy to you and your family.

    Walter & Elizabeth Retzer

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  35. Richard Woodward :

    Joanne—we met a very long time ago in Calgary. I just spoke to Gord Lackenbauer and he told me that Harry suddenly passed away this past week. I was devastated. I have many fond memories of working on various projects with Harry during his time at TAU. I was a University of Calgary prof for years and also worked at CAPP and Nesbitt Burns. Our family moved to San Francisco almost 13 years ago so really haven’t seen Harry since then.
    Harry was a great individual–he will be missed by many.
    Our deepest condolences

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  36. Mike and Cynthia Daigle :

    Joanne, Mike and I send our deepest condolences to you and your family.
    Harry’s light will continue to shine; may its warmth spread and comfort you and your family. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

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  37. Harry, you were a long and very dear friend. You were a very kind, helpful and thoughful person with a wonderful sense of humour. You were brilliant but never showed it and went about your affairs in a calm and logical manner and so earned the respect of the financial and business communities in Canada.You had a full and rewarding life to be celebrated. I will miss you very much.
    Trevor

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  38. Virginia Mackie-Stewart :

    Dear Joanne,
    Please accept my sympathy on the sudden death of Harry. He came into my life on a personal level when he helped me build a resume. His sensitivity, his warmth and his compassion were all revealed through his eyes, always a steady hand and a direct connection. His community will miss him.

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  39. Monica E. Kohlhammer :

    Mrs. Schaefer and Family – My deepest condolences on the passing of a wonderful and kind man with much wisdom. His teachings in governance and business has been a positive influence to the careers of many. He will be missed.

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