Robert Blair Shaffer
Robert Blair Shaffer died of heart failure in Guilford on October 29 at age 63. A gathering of his friends and kin met at the Trebor Mansion Inn on Sunday, November 5th to celebrate his life and witness the scattering of his ashes on the grounds. Those attending exemplified one of the deceased’s most distinctive qualities; he divided the human race into two unequal parts: 1) Interesting People; 2) Uninteresting People. It was not always obvious how he made these distinctions, but is was clear that his categorization was not controlled by any known stereotypes. It was not governed by race, creed, sexual preference, height, hue, weight, political affiliation, or criminal record. As much as he may have despised certain “types” he interacted with toleration and interest any individual who did not bore him.
This quality, along with great intelligence and wide interests, embraced Catholic Cardinals, Grand Rabbis, Sufi Sheiks, confidants of Adolf Hitler, heads of state, Communist revolutionaries (reformed and unreformed), former Wehrmacht generals, craftsmen, millworkers, policemen, convicts, and every known variety of eccentric. Every career, personal history, opinion, ambition, success, and failure interested him as long as it wasn’t boring.
His interests were too various to list in full, but an abbreviated selection conveys their variety and eccentricity. He had a scholarly mastery (and an original edition) of Oswald Spengler’s Der Untergang des Abendlandes, dipped into I Ching, the Chinese book of changes, almost daily, knew the prophecies of Nostradamus in detail.
A principal impetus for his travels was his fifteen-year passion for restoring historic homes. Trebor Mansion Inn in Guilford was his seventh restoration.
Robert and his adopted son Zarvin, after three years and $80,000 dollars of renovation, had to watch the firefighters from Sangerville, Monson, Dover-Foxcroft, Cambridge, Dexter and Sebec assist the Guilford Fire Department efforts to save their home.
Most sane people would have collected the insurance, sold the devastated remains and left the scene of the disaster. But Robert was not at all like other people, sane or otherwise. He promptly hired local juveniles to chip away the eight inches of ice left by the fire hoses and began planning restoration.
Robert Shaffer’s political engagements were even more intense than his devotion to historical restoration. They involved him in municipal, county, state and national elections in the Midwest, Massachusetts, and Maine year after year.
The political effort that consumed most of his time and attention in the twenty-first century was the 2008 Frary for Congress Campaign for Maine’s Second District. The grateful candidate was left write opinion columns, make speeches, and march in parades, while Robert handled almost all the other business of the campaign.
The great man will be missed.