Recently, the turtle conservation community lost another of its most passionate contributors and beloved friends. On Thursday, July 1, 2021, Chuck Schaffer passed away peacefully at his home in Jacksonville, Florida‚Äîhis family by his side. The news of Chuck‚Äôs passing was hard-hitting as he was a treasured and integral member of our collective turtle conservation family. Chuck was the ultimate ‚Äúturtle nerd,‚Äù and we loved him. His lively spirit, jovial and outgoing personality, love of nature, and commitment to family and friends will be deeply missed by all who knew him. Chuck is survived by his wife Miren, sons Max and Rick, daughter Lauren, and his cherished black Labrador Retriever, Silk.
From Peter Paul van Dijk:
‚ÄúWe live in times that are unprecedented in living memory. A pandemic is sweeping the planet, and our family and friends get sick, and some do not get better. We become almost numb to the loss of lives around us. And yet, being told of the passing of Chuck Schaffer is a deep shock.
I can't recall how long I've known Chuck; maybe two decades? It does not matter. What matters is that we've lost a devoted, dedicated, energetic fellow turtle maniac. Chuck and I first got talking about the great chelonian love of his life, Manouria emys, because I had worked in emys habitat, and he wanted to better understand what and how the animals experience and thrive in their environment. From there on, we realized a shared love of antiquarian books about turtles, to the point that we found ourselves outbidding each other on a book on eBay. We discussed the joys and pitfalls of library building, and swapped rare books and shelf-hungry journal sets. We share a love of turtle-themed beverage bottles, and presented each other Terrapin Brewery bottles.
It's incredible, offensive, horrible to realize that we can't ever again sit in the back of the hospitality suite at the annual turtle conference and swap stories, opinions, and dreams. Be well, Chuck, I hope you are among herds of mountain tortoises.‚Äù
From Sibille Pritchard:
‚ÄúTo say that Chuck Schaffer was a friend would be an understatement. Peter [Pritchard] was to Chuck turtle deity, and as such, for years, Chuck sought Peter‚Äôs knowledge on everything turtle. For as long as I can remember, Chuck visited the Chelonian Research Institute several times a year, and in the past few years, almost weekly.
His encyclopedic knowledge on every meeting he attended, every country he visited, and every turtle person he knew was astounding. I think the iPhone was invented for Chuck. He used it as his personal library and photo album, bringing up pictures of people as they were mentioned in conversation. But, most of all, Chuck adored turtles and was not only interested in the science but more importantly of their conservation.
Chuck passed this passion onto his son Rick. I remember when Rick was asked to do a science project on his heroes. He did a poster presentation on Peter which not only brought him first place, but a coveted spot on the wall in Peter‚Äôs office after proudly presenting it to his turtle hero.
So, it was indeed very sad when I received the news of Chuck‚Äôs passing. It was also more poignant because it was just a year after Peter‚Äôs passing. I was aware of Chuck‚Äôs illness and spoke with him frequently - but always hopeful that he would survive.
Peter recognized Chuck‚Äôs authenticity and appreciated it, so he trusted him to review his Rafetus manuscript, and Chuck was thrilled at the opportunity. Chuck often told me how proud he was of that work.
The Pritchard family and CRI remember very fondly Chuck‚Äôs humanism and friendship and we shall miss him.‚Äù