Penny Schafer, of Belmont, Massachusets, age 76, died on August 26, 2020 in Portland, Maine after suffering a stroke while at her vacation home in Jefferson, Maine. Penny was born on April 10, 1944 and grew up in LaGrange, Illinois. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1966 and received a doctorate from Harvard University in Urban Planning (with a concentration in Economics) in 1976. While in graduate school she fell in love with Robert Schafer, and they were happily married for 50 years as of August 23, 2020. Penny worked at Abt Associates for most of her career as an environmental economist with her principal client being the Environmental Protection Agency. One of her principal clients at EPA said of Penny, "she leaves behind a legacy of making the world a better place at both the national and local level." Her colleagues at Abt Associates remember her as an amazing mentor, smart, funny, and, most of all, wise. She had an amazing capacity for kindness, while pushing her colleagues to be better than they knew they could. Penny became nationally known for her work on the dangers of lead paint and their abatement. She conducted risk assessments of the environmental impacts of lead and other pollutants (such as mercury and asbestos) on the environment, and performed impact and cost-benefit analyses of proposed environmental regulations. She also developed an early web-based lead database which provided organizations and families with access to data on childhood lead poisoning and facilitated interdisciplinary collaboration in the effort to prevent childhood lead poisoning. Although she never sought the spotlight, Penny was dedicated to her community and invested great time and energy in making it a better place for all. She served the Town of Belmont as an elected representative to Town Meeting for 38 years. In addition, she served on the towns Warrant Committee, which oversees the town budget, including chairing the committee for a period. She also played a vital role on Belmonts Senior Center Building Committee and on the Council on Aging (including being its President). Generous almost to a fault, Penny was a dedicated member and officer of the Belmont League of Women Voters, most recently serving on its board and as its treasurer. She also devoted serious time to the First Church in Belmont, serving in various roles since joining around 1978, including most recently service on the Parish Board and a just completed six-year term as its treasurer. In addition, she was an active long-term member of her Radcliffe College Class Reunion Committee. Penny is survived by her husband, her son, Karl, and her two brothers, Gale and Brad, and their families. The family is establishing a Penny Schafer Memorial Fund at the First Church in Belmont, 404 Concord Avenue, Belmont, MA 02478, to which contributions can be made in lieu of flowers or other gifts. A memorial service will be held once the Covid-19 virus subsides and in person gatherings are again possible.
Published in The Belmont Citizen-Herald from Sep. 30 to Oct. 15, 2020.