Emmy Langer Schaeffer

Dec. 16, 1918 - June 10, 2014
Emmy Langer Schaeffer,  Dec. 16, 1918 - June 10, 2014


The East Hampton Star learned this week of the death on June 10 of Emmy Langer Schaeffer, who summered in East Hampton and Amagansett for over half a century and became a full-time resident of East Hampton in 1993. She had overcome Parkinson’s disease, melanoma, and a severe stroke in her final years, dying in her sleep at home in Santa Fe, N.M. She was 95.

  She was born in Bismarck, N.D., on Dec. 16, 1918, during the great flu pandemic of 1918-19, the oldest of four daughters. Her mother, the former Lydia Cady, was battling the disease at the time of Mrs. Schaeffer’s birth. Her mother eventually recovered, becoming half of one of the most dynamic couples in the history of North Dakota politics. Mrs. Schaeffer’s father, William Langer, was the state attorney general at the time of her birth. He was twice elected governor, and was elected a United States senator four times.

  She was said to be a beautiful, vivacious redheaded girl, with a charismatic personality. Growing up, she and her family attended many ceremonies and events of the local Native American tribes. She was driven to excel, graduating from Bismarck High School as salutatorian. Though she worked for her father during summers as a paralegal, she decided against becoming an attorney, a course her father had laid out for her.

  Instead, she enrolled in Barnard College, transferring a year later to Smith College in Northampton, Mass. Halfway through her sophomore year, after her Christmas vacation, she missed Smith’s special train out of Grand Central Station. To get back to New England, she boarded a Dartmouth special, and it was on that train that she met J. Peter Schaeffer, who became her husband.

After Mr. Schaeffer graduated from Dartmouth, in 1938, he got a job in advertising at The Herald Tribune. His supervisor had a house in Amagansett, and in the summer of 1938 the couple visited the hamlet for the first time.

Mrs. Schaeffer graduated from Smith in 1940. She moved to New York, where she got a job as editor of the college section of Mademoiselle magazine. She was chosen to model for one of its covers and continued to work and model there after marrying that year.

After Mr. Schaeffer returned from serving in the Navy during World War II the couple moved to Purchase, N.Y., where they raised three children.

In 1954, on her husband’s 38th birthday, he was stricken by polio. By chance, their son Peter Langer Schaeffer Jr. received one of the first polio vaccines ever administered later that year.

Paralyzed, Mr. Schaeffer made a partial recovery over the next two years, leaving the newspaper business to become a stockbroker. Mrs. Schaeffer became her husband’s sole caregiver, although she also became a stockbroker. 

They had been spending their summers in Amagansett. After a two-year hiatus, following Mr. Schaeffer’s partial recovery, they returned to the hamlet, soon building a summer house on Windmill Lane in East Hampton.

Mrs. Schaeffer continued working as a stockbroker after her husband died in 1986. The Windmill Lane house became her year-round residence in 1993.

“She enjoyed her long walks, crossword puzzles, young people, politics, her signature Shalimar perfume, and every opportunity to have a lot of laughs,” her son Peter Langer Schaeffer Jr. wrote in a letter to The Star, “but, most of all, she loved her kids with all of her heart.”

In 2003, Mrs. Schaeffer moved to the Ponce de Leon retirement community in Santa Fe; her daughter lived nearby.

A memorial gathering was held at Ponce de Leon after her death and her ashes were placed with her husband’s in the memorial wall at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Hampton.

In addition to her son Peter Langer Schaeffer of Amagansett, she is survived by her son William Langer Schaeffer of Chester, Conn., and a daughter, Pamela Cady Schaeffer Buffington of Santa Fe.

Two grandchildren and two sisters, Mary Langer Gokey of Fargo and Cornelia Langer Nolan Reis of New York City, also survive.

The family said they were particularly appreciative of Mrs. Schaeffer’s caregivers toward the end of her life, Flor Diaz, Laura Cantero, and Nancy Diaz.

Donations in Mrs. Schaeffer’s memory have been suggested for the P.M.S. Hospice Center, 1400 Chama Avenue, Santa Fe 87505.