NISSWA -- A former owner of Schaefer's grocery store, Theodore "Ted" Schaefer, 83, Nisswa, followed a general routine every week -- he had breakfast every morning with the Nisswa mayor, he and Gene Bierhaus went out Wednesday night's for the "retired old man's eating out night" and every Saturday morning he had coffee with friends from Nisswa.
Schaefer now will be missed at these traditional get-togethers. He died suddenly Thursday at the Cuyuna Regional Care Center while visiting his wife.
"Ted was one of our greatest friends," said Fran Holden of Brainerd and formerly of Nisswa. "He was caring, loving, thoughtful and was a great guy to be around. We will greatly miss him."
When Holden lived in Nisswa, she and Schaefer would go biking together every morning and go out for breakfast. After she moved, she and Schaefer began having coffee every Saturday morning with a group of friends.
"He was a great storyteller," she said.
"He had the driest sense of humor," said Bierhaus. "He was a great guy and a hard worker."
Bierhaus went to high school with Schaefer.
"John and Ted (Schaefer) as young kids would every day take off on Mondays to go to St. Paul, a slaughterhouse, with their dad or by themselves to bring back a load of meat," said Bierhaus. "They worked all the time."
Schaefer's dad owned the oldest meat market in Brainerd called Schaefer's Model Market, located on Maple Street. His father entered as a partner in the business in 1916 and later became the full owner. Ted Schaefer and his brother John then took over the store. Today the store, Schaefer's Foods, is located in Nisswa and Schaefer's son, Ted Schaefer, runs it.
Bob Turcotte, Brainerd, knew Schaefer through the grocery business. Turcotte was at Fairway Grocery while Schaefer was at the Model Market. Turcotte said the two were never competitors and actually helped each other out. The Model Market only carried meat and Fairway Grocery had other grocery products.
"Whenever we would get together we would share a lot of stories from the olden days," said Turcotte. "Ted was a good friend and had a great sense of humor."
Leola Buchite of Brainerd worked for Schaefer for 45 years. It was the only job she ever had.
"He was very good to me," she said. "He was always the fun one on the crew. His brother John was the serious one."
Buchite said the two brothers worked harder than anyone else she ever knew.
Brothers Jim and Ted Dullum, Schaefer's cousins, of Nisswa, said when they were children the families would spend a lot of time on Round Lake together.
"He was a quiet and humble giant in the Brainerd business and social community and in the family," said Jim Dullum. "He never pretended to be anything that he wasn't comfortable with.
"He will be leaving a big hole in the family and the community."
"We were very close friends and had a lot in common," said Harold Kraus, Nisswa mayor. "I knew him for 30 years and he was a great business man.
"He will be greatly missed."
The mayor said he did not see him Wednesday, but others told him that Schaefer was in good spirits and did not mention any health concerns.
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