Paul R. Shafer
Paul Robert Shafer died on (November 9, 2005) in his home in Bloomfield. He was born in Hartford on June 21, 1924. How do you judge the value of a man's life? Paul was a man who could change with the times and a man who valued history. He was the oldest son of Dr. Alexander and Pauline (Hoffman) Shafer. He was a graduate of Weaver High School, Temple University. A Master of Photography degree was awarded to Paul from the Professional Photographers of America in 1962. Paul will be missed by his brother, Dr. Myron E. Shafer, his sister-in-law, Maryellen Shafer, his five nephews and nieces, Pamela Shafer and her husband Patrick Sheehan, Alex Shafer, Gail Voisin and her husband Didier, Ted Shafer and his wife Susie, and Glenn Shafer and his wife Dana Greenberg, as well as nine grand nephews and nieces, Nora Sheehan, Michael Sheehan, Paul Voisin, Gabriel Voisin, Ethan Shafer, Abby Shafer, Ella Shafer, Joshua Shafer, and Lily Shafer. As a professional photographer, Paul chronicled the events of the day and like all great journalists, he was defined by the events he covered. Working for the Hartford Courant during World War II, Paul's most famous coverage was that of the Hartford Circus Fire on July 6, 1944, one of the worst days in the history of Hartford. Few retrospectives of the event occurred without Paul's phone ringing. He captured in still photographs some of the most gruesome shots ever recorded of that event. From 1947 to 1973, Paul ran a photography studio in Hartford where he specialized in portraits and weddings. A photo shoot on Long Island Sound inadvertently put Paul too close to Plum Island, a U.S. animal disease center that has long operated in secret. U.S. military officials escorted Paul and his photography subject away from the island, a place that today has become a controversial research facility. During 1950's and '60's, he was one of the most widely used wedding photographers in the Hartford area. His photographs were compelling, artistic, and uplifting. Paul served as the President of the Professional Photographers Association of New England in 1968. He was also a sportsman, winning statewide pistol target shooting competitions. After finding the bulls-eye, Paul found new targets in life to set his aim. He spent his private moments every night sharing stories to an extensive network of friends, some old, some new as an accomplished ham operator. Paul served as the president of the Connecticut DX Association, a group of amateur radio operators who specialize in world communications. During the U.S. invasion of Grenada, Paul was one of the first to learn of the events. While the average citizen went about his commute to work, Paul radioed with people witnessing U.S. troops storming the beaches. As a photographer and ham operator, technology forced Paul to stay current. He moved from shooting black and white photographs with large bulky cameras to color photographs with small pocket size cameras and eventually to digital cameras. He first used Morse Code as a ham operator and later adapted to the use of the internet. Paul knew his world geography and how cultures are shaped by their natural resources. He worked as a sports photographer up until his final days, walking the sidelines of high school sporting events, a kind grandfather type who understood that as different as the world is today, a teenager is still a teenager. The world is a better place because of Paul Shafer and ham operators turning off their machines tonight will wonder why the airwaves were a bit quiet. His letters, photographs, and artifacts now represent a life rich in experiences. A graveside funeral will take place at 10 a.m. November 20, Emanuel Synagogue Cemetery, 1361 Berlin Turnpike, Wethersfield. Memorial contributions can be sent to the Hartford Art School of the University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06117. Weinstein Mortuary has charge of arrangements.

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