People talk about what they prioritize, what’s important to them, so when Carma Schafer spoke about her husband, Harry, their combined family of three children and six grandchildren, it was clear that family is her top priority.
Carma was born in Wynnewood, Oklahoma and as a daughter of an oil man, they frequently moved, which came to be good practice for her future. She graduated from Midwest City, Oklahoma and went on to study business administration at a local business college. “But then I got married and had two children,” she said. Her husband was in the Air Force and that meant moving every three to four years. After divorcing, “I knew of Harry because he was also in the Air Force.” Carma set up single girlfriends with Harry, “but nothing ever happened. Then I asked him to help me with some business issues. He came over for dinner and,” she laughed, “he never left.” Carma and Harry have now been married for 37 years. “We have so much fun!”
With Harry, a retired Lt. Colonel who mostly worked on Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, Carma moved frequently. “Harry had a consistent circle of people, but each time we moved, I had to meet a whole new group of friends.” That is likely the reason that today Carma is quick to connect to new folks through her enthusiastic and warm personality.
She laughed while recalling, when the Air Force has a soldier, “they get the spouse too,” she said, pointing to herself. “We were actually taught how to be a commander’s wife,” she said, rolling her eyes. “How to deal with grief, how to do public speaking.…”
Throughout the upheaval of repeated moves, Carma worked in Business Administration for a number of companies including Mobile, Central Michigan University (where she also worked on her Masters), Sarpa County, and QA Technologies; she was also a Financial Consultant for Merryl Lynch.
Of many places they called home, Omaha, Nebraska was where Carma served as President of the Suburban Rotary Club. “I was the second woman president. When I took office only ten percent of the members were women. By the time I left the club we had 30%. It was a great club – it was nuts.” Carma related the story of former Rotary district presidents in the club sitting along the back wall and holding up score boards, as if in the Olympics, as someone was speaking. So, in 2010, when she and Harry decided to move to Colorado and were considering Evergreen, Carma visited the Evergreen Rotary Club. “I knew I had found my next Rotary family when I walked in and Chuck Ridings was singing ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’” Carma worked on the Home and Garden Show and was active in the recycling program.
They discovered Colorado by visiting Estes Park with their grandchildren several times. “One morning we were having coffee and the light was shining off the mountains and elk were grazing. I turned to Harry and said, “You know, people LIVE here. WE could live here.” That was May 31 and we sold our house by August 9.” They found a home in Brook Forest and loved it. But after a medical emergency, they chose to move a little closer to the city and now live on Lookout Mountain.
Today, parked in front of their home, Carma and Harry have a slick little R Pod trailer. “We had traveled down to Moab and needed to find a hotel that would take dogs.” She laughed, “We ended up at one of those old motels where you pull right up to your door. We were the ONLY people there. It was so spooky. I thought, ‘I am never doing this again.’” So, now they take their home with them. They recently spent six-weeks traveling through both American and Canadian National Parks, including Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Banff. “We hiked the Athabasca Glacier. It was great, we also went down through Idaho where I’d never been, through Utah and northern Colorado.” They’ve also traveled to Mexico and Europe, “but we don’t really need to go far. We just want to hike, camp and meet camp hosts, go places where we’ve never been. We meet people who we’ll never see again, but we share stories and they become part of our experience.”
Knowing Carma is an experience everyone should enjoy. She begins each day meditating and grounding herself in what is most important in her life. Her love of family and friends is matched only by her love of understanding the joy of discovering new things, and most especially, new friends.