Volunteer of the Month – Frederick Schaefer

How do you go from helping in a hospital surgical unit to touring kids through a cemetery? Well, our August volunteer of the month, Frederick Schaefer, is doing just that.

Crown Hill Tour Guide, Fred Schaefer, conducts a school tour.

Fred was born in Fort Wayne, IN (Allen County) but moved to Indianapolis in the 6th grade. His family is located in the Ben Davis area, and Fred graduated from Ben Davis High School; he just celebrated his 50th high school reunion. Fred’s early interest in history was with the Old Fort in downtown Fort Wayne and the Lincoln Museum, which inspired him to learn more. Despite this love of history, Fred did not get a history degree or become a history teacher. He just does his “living history” for the love of it.

Fred attended the Indiana Vocational Technical College for the Surgical Technologist program. This has led him for the last 50 years to work as a Surgical First Assistant with certifications as a surgical technologist and orthopedic specialist. Six years ago, the Association of Surgical Technologists awarded him their highest award – Fellow.

This practical, surgical knowledge, Fred has combined with his history interest. He has portrayed a Civil War-era surgeon for years, showing both adults and kids what it would be like to have surgery during the war. Now that it is time to retire from all that real surgery, Fred decided it was time to volunteer more regularly. Luckily, he decided on Crown Hill Cemetery.

We asked Fred, why us? He stated, “I’m not really sure why, but it’s like someone is trying to reach out to me to discover their life’s history. Crown Hill is not where someone, or history, has died or ended! Crown Hill to me is where History lives!” We could not agree more! The fact that Crown Hill’s early beginnings started during our American Civil War might have also inspired him.

Fred has entered our tour guide training program, having already led one Civil War-themed public tour. He is also helping with our educational tours, geared towards school-aged kids. He corrals the groups and leads educational tours, even portraying his Civil War surgeon. It’s volunteers like Fred that make the educational programming possible. Our Director of Education, Stephanie Ertel, can’t do it alone. She relies heavily on volunteers and is grateful for people like Fred, who take their personal time to share the jewels at Crown Hill Cemetery.

If you would like to volunteer at Crown Hill Cemetery and Arboretum, check out our website for more details or to find the application.