(Peter) Mark Shaffer—university professor, folk dance enthusiast, cyclist and traveler — died January 8, 2022, aged 83.

Born December 18, 1938 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania to William and Harriet Kuntz Shaffer, at the age of seven Mark moved with his family to the San Fernando valley, where he grew up and made lifelong friends. He attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon; a semester abroad, experiencing the World Youth Festival in Vienna and visiting Eastern European countries, greatly expanded his interest in the German language, in travel and in world affairs.

Graduating from Reed in 1961, Mark received his M.A. from the University of Chicago. In 1966 he began his life work, teaching German language and literature at Humboldt State University. He organized student exchanges, started a tradition of language retreats at a youth hostel, went together with a colleague to guide student groups in Germany, and taught or helped his colleagues in world languages teach innovative courses on European literature and culture. He worked with a consortium of local teachers of languages, including indigenous languages.

Retiring in 1998, Mark pursued lifelong interests with renewed energy. He became increasingly active as a member of Humboldt Folk Dancers. He began bicycling with a group of friends, exploring Humboldt highways and back roads and climbing challenging hills. With his wife Maggie, he travelled widely, notably to Mexico, Greece and Vietnam where the two taught English under the auspices of Global Volunteers.

Married for 59 years to his Reed classmate Maggie, he also leaves their daughter Erika and dear son in law Fred, son Andrew and beloved daughter in law Jennifer, and grandchildren Nathan and Jessica, for whom he was their playful and devoted Opa.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Mark Shaffer’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.