RAVENNA — An advocate of Ravenna and its history and architecture was publicly recognized in his hometown months after his death.

“Honorary Way,” the memorial plaque and stone bench at the corner of Ravenna’s courthouse lawn, was renamed “Jack W. Schafer Way.” Schafer, who died March 30, was recognized in public tributes offered Thursday by city leaders and members of his family.

“He loved Ravenna, its buildings, its homes, its businesses but especially its people,” said his sister, Pat Schafer Harper. “He put all of his efforts into his endeavors, because he loved Ravenna and he loved you.”

This time last year, the Ravenna Area Chamber of Commerce and Neighborhood Development Services unveiled Honorary Way, with Neil Mann Jr. as the first nominee. Weeks later, Mayor Frank Seman said, an errant motorist crashed on the courthouse lawn, taking the monument out. The city later received a check from an insurance company to repair the damage, and began working with the Ravenna Area Chamber of Commerce to make Schafer the next honoree.

Seman said there were many similarities between Mann and Schafer, including their love of Ravenna and their commitment to employees in their businesses — Mann at Allen Aircraft and Schafer at Trexler Rubber.

He said he believed it was appropriate that the marker bearing Schafer’s name is in the “shadow” of the flagpole that he and attorney Peggy DiPaola helped save in 2012 as “Friends of the Flagpole.”

“It’s not the flagpole, it’s what it represents,” Seman said. “It will stand as a testament to his life.”

Schafer graduated from Ravenna High School in 1970, and studied architecture at the University of Cincinnati. He went on to work as a preservation architect and an urban planner. He moved back to his hometown in 1991 to help out with his family business, Trexler Rubber Co., founded by his grandfather, William Trexler, in 1936. While he intended to stay only a short time, he ended up taking over the business. He handed over the reins of the company in 2017 to his cousin, Tom Trexler, but remained involved in its operations until his death.

Seman said Schafer could be persuasive when advocating for preservation, even with people who disagreed. He would let the other person speak their mind, then calmly counter with facts.

“He was persuasive because this was important to him,” he said. “His dedication to preserving history just went beyond belief.”

Schafer was a charter member of the CORE team, a public-private partnership dedicated to the redevelopment of Ravenna. He was instrumental to the creation of Main Street Ravenna, serving on its board of directors. He also served on the city’s planning commission, and on the board of the United Way of Portage County.

“You don’t very often come across a person with such an extensive knowledge of Ravenna’s architecture, and its history,” Seman said.

Ryann Kuchenbecker, executive director of the Ravenna Area Chamber of Commerce, said Honorary Way was always meant to recognize a new person quarterly, and another nominee will be selected in the future.

She said Shafer has “been a pillar of this community for so many, and he’s missed dearly.”

Reporter Diane Smith can be reached at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com.