SIKESTON - Joseph Ray Schaefer, 78, died at 1:25 a.m. Jan. 1, 2003, at his home, following an extended illness.
Born June 15, 1924, in Cape Girardeau, son of the late Martin and Anna McBride Schaefer, he was a member of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church and of the Knights of Columbus Council 3151 in Sikeston. As a youth he attended St. Francis Xavier Parish School. He was also a member of American Legion Post 114 and VFW Post 3174 and attended the last reunion of the VII Corps in September 2001 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Schaefer served with the U.S. Army VII Corps Artillery during World War II and participated in the D-Day Invasion on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. He also fought in other battles in Normandy, Central Europe, Rhineland, Northern France and the Ardennes.
The recipient of five Bronze Stars, he was also presented with a replica of the Jubilee Victory Medal of France in honor of the Normandy Invasion's 50th anniversary. A postal carrier for 32 years with the U.S. Post Office in Sikeston, he was also a rural newspaper carrier for the Standard Democrat for many years.
On Aug. 17, 1946, in St. Louis, he married Laura Elizabeth Henry who survives of the home. Following the war, he and his wife worked for the International Shoe Factory in Sikeston.
Other survivors include: one son and daughter-in-law, Terry and Davene Schaefer of Sikeston; two daughters and sons-in-law, Brenda and George Hale of Sikeston and Jackie and Joe Bill Davis of Benton; two brothers, Robert Schaefer and Patrick Schaefer of St. Louis; two sisters, Alma York of Sikeston and Peggy Dyer of Danville, Ill.; and eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Preceding him in death were two brothers, Glen Schaefer and Murl Schaefer; and two sisters, Ruby Smith and Bonnie Farris.
Visitation is from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Nunnelee Funeral Chapel where a prayer service is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church with the Rev. Stephen Schneider, pastor, officiating.
The Missouri Military Honor Guard will conduct full military graveside rites at Memorial Park Cemetery in Sikeston.
Pallbearers will be: Martin Schaefer, Adam Davis, Matt Davis, Lanny Satterfield, Dan Armour and Chris Henry.
Honorary pallbearers will be: James McGee, Bob Lambert, Wendell Pearson, Warren Harber, John Scarbrough, Jim Keller, Cline Carter, Bobby Gentry, Earl Watson and Charles Meunier.
The family thanks all family members, friends and caregivers who provided comfort and care during our dad's illness. A special thank you is extended to Laura Kennedy, Gloria Warren and Fleming Silverthorn.
Memorial contributions may be sent to:
St. Francis Xavier School Fund 245 W. Front St. Sikeston, Mo. 63801
the American Cancer Society c/o Judy Lopp P.O. Box 343 Sikeston, Mo. 63801
Just a Common Soldier Died Today
He was getting old and paunch
And his hair was falling fast.
And he sat around the Legion
Telling stories of his past,
Of a war that he had fought
And deeds that he had done
In his exploits with his buddies,
They were heroes, every one.
And though sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened,
For they knew whereof he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For Old Joe has passed away.
And the world's a little poorer,
For a soldier died today.
He was just a common soldier,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict,
Then we find the soldiers' part
Is to clean up all the troubles
That others often start.
If we cannot give him honor
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.
Perhaps a simple notice
In a paper that would say,
"Our country is in mourning,
'Cause a soldier passed away.