Sunday, November 01, 2015 10:27:00 AM
Just out of high school, Delroy Shafer faced a decision: he could complete Dunwoody’s electrician program or start working full-time and get his education on the job. He got to work, beginning as a Cleaner at the Metropolitan Transit Commission on Aug. 17, 1979. So began a 26-year education in Bus Maintenance. “Once I got here, I just decided I’d stay and train on the job,” Schafer said. “And I really picked up a lot, not just from experience but from working with people who really had a lot of talent.” Schafer did eventually go back to school, though, taking night classes to earn his electricians license. In 2007, he started working in facilities, doing electrical work at rail platforms and other transit properties. In the final three years of his career, Schafer worked as one of two Facilities Supervisors leading a team of around 20 people charged with maintaining Metro Transit’s support facilities. With a combined total of around 2.4 million square feet, there was a lot to keep up with. But the work was rewarding and allowed him to stay involved in one of his favorite parts of the job – trouble-shooting and resolving issues. Inspired by growing up in a union household, Schafer was also an active member of the ATU. Before the opening of the state’s first light-rail line, Schafer was part of a team that toured other properties and worked with management to craft rules for light-rail’s union workers. He was the first union steward to work on behalf of light-rail union members. While involved in the union, Schafer met his wife, Kellie Miller, who retired as the Manager of Scheduling in August 2015. Looking back, Schafer said he was grateful to have worked alongside so many skilled and knowledgeable people – including brothers Wayne and Dan – and to have had a reliable income that allowed him to put his two children through college. “Metro Transit is really the land of opportunity,” he said. “There are just so many different roads you can take in this company…this place provided pretty much everything.” Schafer retired in November 2015 with 36 years of service. In retirement, he planned to spend more time fishing and boating at his northern Minnesota lake home and to pursue a couple of projects – restoring a 1971 Yamaha dirt bike similar to the one he’d had as a teenager and a 27-year-old Boston whaler boat.