Editorial: Medora won’t be the same without its ‘First Lady’

By The Dickinson Press Editorial Board

MEDORA — Medora won’t be the same without Sheila Schafer.

It won’t be the same without her sitting on the porch of her log cabin home, greeting tourists with a wave and a smile. And it won’t be the same without the Fourth of July fireworks party on the cabin’s front lawn.

It won’t be the same without Sheila singing and clapping as she sits front and center at the Medora Musical — the show she and her late husband, businessman Harold Schafer, helped start 51 years ago that sparked the revitalization of the town that is now North Dakota’s biggest tourist attraction.

Sheila Schafer, the magical matriarch of modern Medora and the woman commonly known as the town’s “First Lady” died Wednesday at age 90 after fighting cancer and other illnesses for several years.

Sheila will be remembered for her class, charm and cheerfulness, and as an ambassador not only for Medora but also North Dakota.

Exemplifying the “magic” that many spoke of when they talked about her, Sheila hiked up Buck Hill in Theodore Roosevelt National Park on her 90th birthday — just the same as she had done for several years — before settling in for what would be her final summer in Medora.

Last July, she was honored as the Medora Musical celebrated its 50th anniversary. At a ceremony, Sheila recalled a lifetime of memories on the stage that she called one of the “most magnificent settings in the West.”

“Thank you for 50 years of great memories,” she told the audience.

In a couple of months, tourists will once again begin descending on Medora for the summer.

Every day, people will line the streets to shop, eat ice cream, visit museums and take in the beauty of the Badlands. Crowds will pack the Burning Hills Amphitheatre for the Medora Musical.

But something will be forever missing.

Without Sheila Schafer, summer in Medora just won’t be the same.


The Dickinson Press Editorial Board consists of Publisher Harvey Brock and Managing Editor Dustin Monke.


Author: Dustin Monke

Former newspaper editor. Now I market the best baked goods and donuts in America. But every once in a while, I write a cool story too.

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