|In Memory of Our Friend, Todd Schafer
Todd was just up from Louisville when I first met him at a Campbell County Football
game at Bob Miller Stadium back in 2004. He came up to me and introduced himself
as our new Public Address Announcer. When I asked him how that came to be, he
explained to me that he had performed similar duties in Louisville, including the LIT.
He said that he had reached out to both Bishop Brossart and Campbell County, and
it was Mel Webster who had responded first – Our gain and the Camels loss.
It didn’t take Todd long to endear himself to the Brossart basketball programs – both
girls and boys - and embed himself into the fabric of the Brossart community. Todd
was a stickler for detail and always wanted our roster, as well as that of our
opponent’s well ahead of game time. He became a fixture in our gym, watching our
teams practice and familiarizing himself with the players. He held that position on
both sides, through the 2013-14 season, and wears a ring celebrating the 2007
Mustangs winning the “A” State Championship. All this despite having health issues
related to heart disease. It was no secret that he was taking 27 pills a day in order to
remain upright and mobile. He volunteered at the Baseball program’s Superbowl
Party, hosted at the Alexandria Community Center, where he worked. He volunteered
at the Nathan Seiter Golf Outing, and when he didn’t get lost, was there at 5am, well in
advance of the first golfer, readying himself to sell Split the Pot tickets. He was very
competitive and sometimes was not in good enough health to sell the afternoon
session past the sign-in. In those instances, he always wanted to know the final
sales count, and took pride in the fact that he had outsold whoever had volunteered
to sell the afternoon/evening shift.
|Todd was a favorite of our players, and it is
they who will take his passing the hardest. I
have many pictures of Todd, normally
surrounded by a player or players. He made
a point to buy candy for each member of the
girls’ basketball team on Valentines Day
Todd was not only the PA announcer but
sang the National Anthem, not only to the
delight of our fans, but to those of our
opponents. Todd sang in, and often won,
regional and statewide Karaoke contests. I
remember attending the finals of a major
competition held at one of the local casinos.
He was very popular in those circles. There
were also many times when Todd would sing
the National Anthem on big days at River
I asked Todd to sing at my mother’s funeral. This was not unusual in that he sang at MANY weddings and funerals. What
was unusual was that I requested that he sing a song that he had never heard and was not at all familiar with. The song was
“To Where You Are” by Josh Groban. Todd had trouble finding the sheet music for the song and I remember him calling me
directly from Willis Music Store to give him a better description of the song I wanted. To make a long story short, Todd
pulled it off masterfully. I was supposed to be in the church lobby with my family, but I made them wait while I stood in the
church to listen to Todd’s rendition. I was honored when Todd sang the song again at that year’s Crooner. It became one
of his favorites. Our basketball team, in attendance out of respect for me and my family, learned that day that Todd was
capable of singing songs other than the National Anthem.
|The Crooners were Todd’s moments in the spotlight. Once annually he put on a
Christmas Crooner show at the Alexandria Community Center and all of his friends
and fans showed up. He called it “winging it” but he had it down to a science what
he and the group were going to do, and how long it was going to last. Todd shared
the profits with the less fortunate, despite the fact that he himself had monumental
medical and personal debts. That was simply Todd being Todd.
Todd was also a horse player and had friends in Louisville who would give him tips.
Much of it being quite good information, but Todd was a hard-luck player. He liked
to play numbers and one of his favorite sets was 2-5-6. Invariably, it would come
2-6-5 or a combination that he had played the previous day. He liked to play the
daily number game sponsored by the lottery. He was actually quite lucky and often
cashed tickets via that venue. Todd always kidded me about taking him fishing. I
was never quite sure if he was serious or not. Thanks to the Homeland Security
people following 9-11 they would not let us fish in close proximity to Beckjord
Power Plant – my best bait and wait spot. They have now decommissioned the
Beckjord Plant and I assume it’s OK to fish there again - Unfortunately, too late for
me to take Todd on an outing. Shame on me!
|Following the 2013-14 hoops season it became quite
obvious that Todd’s health was in decline. He made
many visits to the Ross Heart Hospital in Columbus,
Ohio, but they were unable to do much for him
because of his weight, and the deteriorating condition
of his heart. Todd reluctantly gave up his duties as
our PA announcer, and simply tried to become a fan.
He had a severe congestion in his chest and had
trouble carrying on a conversation. He tired easily
and was unable to stay for a full game, and often came
for the JV game and was unable to stay for the varsity
game. Somehow he managed to pull off the 2014
Crooner, which unfortunately would be his last, but
not THE last. His friends have committed to keeping
Todd's Crooner tradition alive. I think it was because
of the fact that another basketball season loomed
ahead with no better prospects than the last, that
caused Todd to opt for radical surgery in hopes of a
better quality of life. Unfortunately, before having the
procedure, he had a stroke, and while there they
discovered a cancerous mass on his kidneys which
led to his eventual demise.
Todd fought the good fight. When I saw him in Columbus in early August, as a result of his stroke, he was having difficulty
putting sentences together, still had the massive congestion in his chest, and had severe swelling in his extremities. I feared
for him then. What was somewhat unbelievable, I kidded Todd, that with his speech impaired that we’d have to start the 2015
Crooner at 2pm to get it all in, at which time Todd belted out – “What a wonderful world it would be” – flawlessly. His stroke
didn’t impair his ability to sing – Go Figure! When I saw him again in early September, here in Fort Thomas, Todd was a new
man. His speech was returning, the swelling was gone, and he could carry on a conversation without the bouts of coughing.
If I didn’t know better I would have said that he was on the road to recovery. However, because of the condition of his heart
they were unable to operate to remove the cancer on his kidneys, necessitating dialysis. Eventually the cancer won out,
dialysis was discontinued and Todd slipped away.
I can’t bring myself to realize that this has happened. Todd always reminded me that his father passed away at an early age,
and that due to his heart issues, he himself didn’t expect to live to a ripe old age. Sometimes when he'd comment on not
doing well, I’d tell him how good he looked, to which he joked that he’d make a good looking corpse. It was good, I guess,
that Todd could kid about his possible impending doom. Whether he actually believed it himself is debatable. We all think
that we are going to live forever.
We will all always remember Todd, for his warm smile and friendly greetings. His voice will sing on in our memories forever.
He was a deeply religious man, and had accepted Jesus as his savior. There is a line in the song that Todd is singing in the
background of the slideshow - ”When Christ shall call and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.” Todd never failed to
end a conversation or phone call with the words – Have a Blessed Day! He will be missed.
Have a Blessed Day.
October 4, 2015