Ann Schaffer (Elder), a member of SVP since 1985, was born to Rebecca and Jimmy Schaffer in Feagaville, Maryland, on April 7, 1958. She was taken from this life suddenly on March 31 as a result of complications from emergency surgery.
Ann earned a BA in geology from the University of Vermont, and a MS in geology/paleontology at Utah State University.
Ann began her career with the National Park Service in 1984 at Fossil Butte National Monument as a park technician. She then moved to Dinosaur National Monument and served there as a geology technician, paleontologist and museum curator.
Ann worked in the field and lab for sixteen years as a paleontologist, and made countless contributions to the field through excavations, publications and presentations at interagency and professional society meetings. Among her many contributions, Ann and a coworker were credited with the excavation and preparation of a new species of Allosaurus. In the lab, Ann skillfully prepared many significant specimens that were new to science. Her work as the first full-performance museum curator at the park helped ensure the future safe-keeping and protection of the park's vast collection. As curator, Ann set up guidelines and planning documents to guarantee that the collection would be managed appropriately in the future, conducted a 100% inventory of the collection, helped catalog nearly one million cultural and natural history items, and facilitated a Web-based exhibit of the park's fossils.
Starting in September 2008, during the final phase of her career, Ann was selected as chief of resource management at Colorado National Monument. Her focus expanded beyond vertebrate paleontology to include the park’s historic structures, museum collections and archives, archeological surveys and wildlife management. However, she continued to help other parks with paleontological issues as well.
Ann's expertise was called upon by other park units and government agencies throughout her career. She conducted museum program assessments, and paleontology surveys and excavations at several parks throughout the NPS, including Curecanti NRA, Grand Teton NP, Badlands National Park and Fossil Butte NM. Ann also aided the FBI in the seizure of a T. Rex from a commercial collector, helped ensure its safe preservation and provided support during the resulting court trial.
The National Park Service honored Ann on several occasions for her outstanding service. She was given an award in 1993 for her work as the co-chair for the Third Conference on Fossil Resources in the NPS. In 2005, her success at obtaining project funds in support of museum archives cataloging, coordinating GPRA, and using volunteer help was credited at Dinosaur National Monument. Ann was also a recipient of the Intermountain Region Appleman-Judd Award for Cultural Resource Protection in 2004. This prestigious award is given each year to a handful of NPS employees for their valuable work in cultural resource management.
Ann Elder was a very special friend and colleague. She was always willing to help and reach out to those in need. Ann was also respected for her integrity. She was never shy about speaking out on important issues. Her work was always at the highest standard. She was respected and loved by all who knew her.
She is survived by her devoted husband, Tom Elder, of Vernal, Utah; her mother Becky Schaffer; her sister Sue, her brother Gary, and numerous nephews and nieces. She leaves behind her Aussie Shepherd, Cedar, and English Cocker Spaniel, Stikine, who were also very much a part of her life.
In lieu of flowers – Tom has requested donations in Ann’s name to the Mar-Lu-Ridge Organization which hosts camps for youth and others. Ann worked at Mar-Lu-Ridge as a camp counselor. Ann and Tom were married at the camp. The Web site is: http://www.mar-lu-ridge.org/. They are seeking donations to offer scholarships for campers for this summer. Address: Mar-Lu-Ridge, Conference and Educational Center, Office of the Executive Director, 3200 Mar-Lu-Ridge Rd., Jefferson, MD 21755
A memorial service was held in both Maryland at Mar-Lu-Ridge and in Vernal, Utah at St. James Catholic Church.
Please visit Sympathy Tree. com to add your thoughts about Ann – search Ann Schaffer Elder or use the link below:
Joan Anzelmo, Superintendent, Colorado National Monument
Rachel Benton, Park Paleontologist, Badlands National Park
Scott Foss, Regional Paleontologist, BLM - Utah State Office
Scott Madsen, Utah Geological Survey
Photo courtesy of NPS.