Mr. Harry Schafft
May 21, 1932 – February 9, 2019
On February 9, 2019, we lost a great man. Beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, neighbor, competitive fencer, and amazing dancer, Harry was quick with a joke, had a beautiful smile, and fiercely loved and supported all those around him with all his heart. He was fair, honest, and to the point. He made unparalleled Margaritas and excellent apple pies. He believed in the value of the individual, and that given an equal opportunity anyone could succeed, no matter their skin color, religion, place of origin, or sexual orientation – and he built his life around those beliefs. Very active in the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s, he was a political progressive until the end of his life. Harry was born in New York City, May 21, 1932 to parents, Arthur and Kate, who were first generation German immigrants. His first language was German, and as a child he traveled a great deal, from New York to Texas to Tennessee as his father, a union steamfitter, moved from state to state for work. Eventually the family settled in New York City, and Harry graduated from Stuyvesant High School in the East Village, and he went on to receive an undergraduate degree from New York University and a Master’s degree (ABD) from the University of Maryland, joining his father as a union steamfitter as he worked his way through college. In 1962 he married the love of his life, Gretchen, and they proceeded to build a full, varied and rich life together. This included buying land outside of rural Artemis, Pennsylvania and constructing a mountaintop cabin with their own hands where they spent many weekends over the decades with friends and family. Harry also went on to have a storied career as a reliability physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology working on micro-circuit technology. A particular area of this work concerned the problem of second breakdown, a phenomenon related to the electronic failure of transistors and power devices. Second breakdown posed challenges to everything from rocket science to pacemakers to solar energy photovoltaic cells. Harry made significant scientific contributions to all of these areas. His award-winning work resulted in a set of standards that are used by both the domestic and international semiconductor industry today, research detailed in approximately 75 papers and reports that informed the industry. Harry finally retired in 2000, after 41 years of service. At his retirement party Harry noted that to make an end is to make a beginning, and the end is the place where you start. He took these words to heart, and entered his post-career life by having many adventures with Gretchen both at home and around the world, enjoying his family and friends, delighting in his children, daughters in law, and grandchildren, traveling, bike-riding and hiking. Later, when slowed by age, he and Gretchen bought a second house in Millheim, Pennsylvania, and they quickly integrated into the community there. Admired and loved by friends and colleagues around the world, he is survived by his wife, his sons, Soren and Kai; daughter-in-laws, Annamaria and Annyce; and grandchildren, Emese, Sam and Emmet. A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 23 at the Bethesda Friends Meeting House at 2 PM. Memorial contributions may be made to the Central Pennsylvania Clinic for Special Children and Adults at http://centralpennsylvaniaclinic.org/.
- Central Pennsylvania Clinic
Bethesda Meeting House
Mr. Harry Schafft
February 19, 2019
Harry was a dear friend and I will miss him very much. He was interesting, welcoming and kind to everyone. He was always up for a protest march - even in the pouring rain! - and I will carry his memory with me in every protest mach I go to in the future. It is so hard to say goodbye but the joy of being his friend is a treasure to keep.