In the midst of the joy and excitement of the new year, we are mourning the passing of Jay Schaffer, a tour leader and beloved member of the Scholastica Travel family. After a long battle with illness, Jay passed away on December 31, 2012.
Jay truly celebrated life. His charisma and enthusiasm were contagious, especially with the students on his tours. John Weir, chairman of Scholastica Travel, led tours with Jay on many occasions. He recalls:
As tour leaders, you share facts and figures, but what students remember most are your stories. Jay was a great story teller! He loved to tell jokes with the kids and was such a caring person. He would look for the kids who weren’t getting enough attention and really engage them in the tour. Jay was also known for his crazy hats that he would wear all over the city. He didn’t care what other people thought, just as long as the kids were having fun and could find him easily. Jay had such a good heart and was so fun to be around. He was truly an asset to Scholastica Travel. The groups loved him because he was such a people person. He was always laughing, entertaining, and joking. He went out of the box to engage the students with gadgets, new trivia, and games. He never stopped learning and always worked hard to improve his abilities. Overall, you couldn’t ask for a better tour leader than Jay.
Jay took the time to listen, making those he interacted with feel cared for, important, and appreciated. Ann Prinkey, President at Scholastica, remembers:
Most of my communication with Jay was by phone. I always enjoyed when Jay called. He’d tell me that I had the voice of an angel and was always so positive and upbeat. I still remember over 20 years ago at one of our company picnics when Jay took the time to talk to my younger sister about archaeology (she was probably in elementary school at the time). I’m sure she was fascinated by his stories. She did become an archaeologist! Jay probably had a little part in her decision!
For 30 years, Jay was Santa Claus at Kaufmann’s and Macy’s in Pittsburgh. Cathy DiPietro, Reservations Manager at Scholastica, recalls:
I took my young nieces, Natalie and Maria, to visit him at Macy’s when they were old enough to wonder about Santa Claus being real. He called me to ask what toys or games they liked, their interests, if they played an instrument or liked a certain movie. He really asked questions, remembered the answers, and then gave those little girls the best Santa Claus visit ever! They were mesmerized by the questions he asked them and how he could know things they liked and did! Jay truly loved to see the wonder in those visiting Santa Claus!
Jay was a fantastic tour leader and caring person. He will truly be missed among the Scholastica Travel family.
Jay’s obituary published in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:
Jerome A. “Jay” Schaffer, of Forest Hills and Wilkins Township, died Monday, Dec. 31, 2012. He was the beloved brother of Judith Webber, of Philadelphia; and survived by three nieces and one nephew. Jay traveled extensively in the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa. He was “Santa” at Kaufmann’s and Macy’s for 30 years. Jay also worked as a tour guide in Washington, D.C., for Scholastica Travel in Greensburg. He was a longtime member of the Toastmasters and he bicycled across the United States coast to coast during the bicentennial year. He sang with the church choir at St. Paul Cathedral and he published a memoir, “Stepping Out of the Parade,” in 1996.