Resident Spotlight: Bob Shaeffer thrives on honesty and fair dealing


Bob ShaefferBob Shaeffer thrives on honesty and fair dealing.

Bob Shaeffer’s career as a salesman for Doubleday put him in touch with everyone from the friendly owners of mom-and-pop bookstore owners to celebrities.

But his greatest satisfaction was derived from a sideline, when he and a good friend teamed up to help people fix up their homes for nothing more than the cost of the supplies.

“Whatever anybody needed, we would do,” he says. “If you had a problem, we’d go solve it for you.”

Homeland resident Shaeffer has been retired from Doubleday, the eminent publishing house, for 20 years. Before launching that 36 year career, he taught school and worked for Prudential. As a Doubleday salesman, he started with a small area of Pennsylvania, and “they just kept adding, adding, adding” territory, until he covered Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey.

“It’s easy to work with people,” he says. “Just be honest.”

Building relationships with clients was the key to success.

“We got to the point where they allowed me to order for them,” he recalls. “I didn’t even have to talk to them. You treat somebody right; you have no problems.”

Often, he worked with authors as they publicized their books. He played golf with New York Yankees legends Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin, as notorious for their antics outside the ballpark as their prowess inside it.

“They were crazy,” says Shaeffer. “They were great. Most of the stories about them were true.”

His favorite celebrity, hands down, was Bob Hope. One day, Shaeffer knocked on Hope’s door at a Philadelphia hotel, and the beloved comedian came out singing his theme song, “Thanks for the Memories.”

“He was an extremely nice man, and he was exactly what you saw on television,” Shaeffer says. “I had 250 books of his to sell, and it was no problem. People lined up to meet him. The only problem was, he was hard of hearing. People would talk to him, and I would lean over to tell him what they said.”

Growing up on a farm in Manheim and then in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Shaeffer learned the art of building and woodworking from his father. His father lived on a farm as a child, where “he learned everything. He was an excellent mechanic. He could fix anything. He was a tremendous person.”

For many years, Shaeffer collaborated with a friend on helping others with their houses, perhaps finishing a basement or repairing something troublesome. The pair enjoyed each other’s company and derived satisfaction from helping others with their hobby. 

“We never cheated anyone. It kept us out of trouble.”

Shaeffer and his late wife, Sandy, raised three children, who grew up to be a police officer, a nurse, and a teacher. At his home in West Hanover Township, outside of Harrisburg, he has 2,000 or 3,000 books, and he still enjoys reading. His reading companion is George, a 16-year-old black cat who curls up on his lap. Shaeffer found George and three feline siblings in the woods when they were kittens so small that all four fit in the palm of his hand.

Homeland, Shaeffer says, “is very nice here,” he says. “I like the people.”

“I’ve been very fortunate in my life,” he adds. “I’ve worked with a lot of nice people, and it was always appreciated – by me.”