We are deeply saddened to announce John Schaeffer Shields, chairman of Schaeffer Manufacturing Co., passed away on Dec. 5, 2016 in St. Louis, MO, at the age of 91. Described as being the spirit of the company, John was known for his love of Schaeffer’s history and for keeping the company family owned for future generations.
John was a graduate of Christian Brothers College Prep., where he was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in Sept. 2016. He graduated from St. Louis University and then enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, training as a waist gunner. An avid athlete, he was also inducted into the Missouri Athletic Club Hall of Fame for his years as Squash and Handball Club Champion. He speed skated in his youth, and introduced the competitive sport to each of his six children, as both coach and cheerleader. Always passionate about the welfare of the country, he held positions in the Crosby Kemper for U.S. Senate and Barry Goldwater for president campaigns. He ran for councilman of Ladue, MO, and U.S. Congress (MO-2nd District), as well as being a two-time delegate for Ronald Reagan at the Missouri Republican conventions. His philanthropic involvement was extensive; he provided weekly meals and activities as a Big Brother, and eventually served as president of the organization’s local chapter. He was chairman and a longtime board member of the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation.
John’s business career began in 1951 when he was a top sales person for IBM. Later he became one of the top estate planning and life insurance sales professionals in St. Louis joining Projected Planning Co., and later as vice president of W. Alfred Hayes & Company.
In 1981, his career took an abrupt turn. That year, his family’s company, Schaeffer Mfg. Co., suffered the tragic loss of its three principals: brother Tom Shields, president; brother Gwynne Shields, vice president and production manager; and Marty Schwab, vice president and national sales manager. Rather than sell the company, John and his sister, Jacqueline Shields Herrmann, restructured the company so it could never be sold. The company would stay within the family to provide for future generations of Schaeffer family and associates.
John Schaeffer Shields became chairman in 1981, and this began Schaeffer Mfg. Co.’s extended period of growth from $14 million in sales to approximately $140 million today. Schaeffer Mfg. Co. boasts over 600 associates and sells nationally, as well as internationally in 40 different countries.