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Goetz Schaffhauser, foreign language teacher Feb. 20, 1936 -- Aug. 10, 2011

Goetz Dietrich Schaffhauser, a local teacher of German and other languages, known for his humor and passion for sustainable living, died in his Amherst home Wednesday after a long illness. He was 75.

Born in Leipzig, Germany, he lived in Munich until he came to the United States in 1961, moving to Buffalo at the invitation of German friends who had settled here.

He was a teacher of German, Spanish and French at many local schools including Amherst Junior High School, Park School, Daemen College and St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute.

Mr. Schaffhauser was well liked by students. In one recent encounter, one said he had been inspired to study by his former teacher's encouraging approach, said Charlotte Grantham, his longtime companion.

Grantham recalled a trip to Salzburg, Austria. When there was no English speaking guide for one palace tour, Mr. Schaffhauser began translating for the German guide.

"Pretty soon there was a mob of people around us, listening to what Goetz had to say," said Grantham, a retired assistant audiology professor at the University at Buffalo.

The couple met in the audience of a production of the Samuel Beckett play the Endgame in the 1982. "He came in and just seemed to brighten the atmosphere all around him," she said. He was the hit of a Halloween party when he arrived in an old night shirt and carried a tall, old-fashioned candle.

"He just was one of the funniest people there," Grantham said. "That's all."

Always concerned about nature and the environment, he hiked mountains in Bavaria. After retirement, he made many friends collecting recyclables, on his bicycle. He was a dedicated worker at Trinity Episcopal Church's White Elephant Sale. In 1956, he graduated from high school in Munich, where he was named the "Bavarian Junior Judo Champion." He studied economics and geography at the University of Munich before leaving for the states.

He is also survived by a sister, Christin Duscher.

A memorial service will be held at a date to be determined in September.

-- Michelle Kearns

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