LASERS third executive director, Roy B. Schaefer, Jr., led the retirement system from 1965 to 1977. His 12 years as director of the System served as the catalyst to what would become a lifelong passion to preserve retirement security for state employees.
A native of New Orleans, Schaefer had worked as chief accountant/assistant controller for six years with the Port Commission of the Port of New Orleans, then executive assistant/controller in the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission in New Orleans. He was instrumental in the organization of credit unions in both agencies.
In 1964, Schaefer moved to Baton Rouge to accept the position of special assistant to the LASERS Board of Trustees. He was chosen by the Board to replace retiring executive director Pierre J. Becker in January 1965.
At the time of his hire, Chairman of the LASERS Board, Winborn E. Davis said, “The retirement system is fortunate to obtain the services of a person with Mr. Schaefer’s ability and experience. He is a career civil servant with extensive experience in administration and accounting and is well qualified to direct the System which now has more than 35,000 active members.”
Schaefer had studied accounting and business management at several universities, including Loyola of New Orleans.
During his years as director, LASERS first membership newsletter was published, Retirement Topics; investments began to include certificates of deposit, corporate bonds, equities, and high yield bonds; the first cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) was paid to eligible retirees; and special retirement eligibility was granted to law enforcement agents.
Schaefer was not only involved with retirement issues statewide, but on the national level as well. He was active with the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA) and was past president of the organization.
Schaefer retired from LASERS in 1977, but he remained actively involved in retirement issues. He was elected by retirees in 1988 to serve as a Trustee on the LASERS Board, in addition to the RSEA Board of Directors as an ex officio member. He was also chairman of the board of directors of the Louisiana League Central Credit Union, and a director on the board of La Capitol Federal Credit Union from 1972 until the time of his death in 1993.
Schaefer’s life was one of service. He was a World War II veteran, serving on active duty with the U.S. Army Air Force from 1941 to 1946. Then, he commanded an intelligence unit in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, retiring as a Full Colonel after 26 years. Schaefer always believed his military training helped him to be a good leader and manager in his professional life.
In describing his father’s dedication to state service, Gary Schaefer said, “He was one of the most honorable people I know and loved state service. As Director of LASERS, he always fought for his members and kept a close watch on any legislation that would affect the LASERS members. He was very active during the Constitutional Convention of 1974 and worked to ensure that the new Constitution had the State’s guarantee of retired benefits.”