Penfield Democrats at a Glance

By Tom Trevett

This is the first in a series of thumbnail sketches of the members of the current Penfield Democratic Committee. The committee is growing, and includes men and women who have been members since the early 1970’s.

This first installment highlights Phil and Elsa Schaefer who have shared their talents and enthusiasm for progressive issues with their Penfield and Monroe County neighbors for many years.

Phil and Elsa Schaefer hale from Ohio and met while undergraduates at Denison University. After completing graduate studies in Theology, Phil was ordained a Priest in the Episcopal rite. They then commenced a career leading Episcopal congregations from Pennsylvania and New York.


In 1969, Phil became Rector of a congregation in Avon, New York; moving to Penfield in 1974 as the Rector of the congregation at Incarnation, where he served until his retirement. The congregation of St. Luke and Cyrene in Rochester was the site of a grand 50th celebration, in 2011, of Phil’s ordination. The presence of Bishop Prince Fingh on the altar demonstrated the Church’s gratitude for Phil’s long and dedicated service.

Ronald Reagan’s candidacy sparked the Schaefer membership on the local Democratic committee. Phil and Elsa’s activity in politics has been a joint effort with Elsa serving as coordinator of election inspectors for ten years. Phil has run for office twice: once for the Monroe County Legislature and once for the New York State Assembly. In each case he believed that the voters deserved a choice.

To this day, Phil can be found helping lead the Democratic contingent marching in Penfield’s July Fourth parade, and Elsa continues to be a dependable contributor to the organization of Democratic receptions. They both continue to set a great example to new members of the committee relative to the many common obligations of committee membership. In approximately 2006, Phil and Elsa were the recipients of the annual Volunteer of the Year Award from the Monroe County Democratic Committee. In accepting this award, Phil said he accepted it for both he and Elsa, acknowledging that the honor recognized work that he accomplished only because of the partnership with her.

In the category of “What’s Most Important in Life”, the Schaefers have four children: a daughter in San Diego, and three sons, all of whom reside in the Rochester region.



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