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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Dr. Joseph I. Shaffer, Ohio Master

     I was saddened to discover that back in July Ohio lost a prominent master of a bygone era. Dr. Joseph I. Shaffer, a psychologist and longtime University of Toledo faculty member who was a pioneer in treating sleep disorders, passed away Monday morning, July 20, 2015 in ProMedica Toledo Hospital from complications after a heart attack. He was 87.
     I lived in Toledo, Ohio in the late 1960's met and Dr. Shaffer on several occasions and found him to be a very pleasant man who was well liked and admired by all the local players.

      He attended the University of Chicago then received his bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees from Temple University in Philadelphia. After receiving his Ph.D. in psychology, he was appointed director of test administration at Temple University. In 1966 he was recruited to join the faculty of the Department of Psychology at The University of Toledo.

      As a young man, he enjoyed playing chess and baseball, and running track. His love of chess continued throughout his life as demonstrated by winning many tournaments including the state championships of Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania. He held the USCF's title of Life Master. Shaffer first made local headlines as Toledo’s only rated chess master. He won the State championship outright in 1970. In 1973 he tied for first with James Harkins, who won on tiebreaks, Ross Sprague and Rea Hayes. Then in 1979 Errol Liebowitz won the championship with Robert H. Burns Jr., Ross Sprague, Perry Sill and Dr. Shaffer tying for second.

      In the early 1980s, he became a pioneer in the field of sleep disorders medicine opening and directing the Sleep Disorders Center at St. Vincent's Medical Center. Continuing his research in the field, he published numerous papers advancing the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders.

      In 1985 Shaffer founded the Sleep Network, Inc., a national consortium of sleep centers. Until his death, he remained president of the Sleep Network, director of the Regional Center for Sleep Medicine in Toledo, a professor of medicine at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine. His research and his reading led him to realize that people could be helped with what he called “sleep-wake disorders,”

      An associate medical director at the University of Toledo's regional center for sleep medicine and a medical faculty member said of Dr. Shaffer, “He was one of the most brilliant people I’ve come across.” Shaffer was remembered for his advice, “Think. You can always reason out your answer if you’re thorough about it.”

      Dr. Shaffer was among the first to apply sleep research to treating people whose issues could have a range of medical and psychological causes.

      He was preceded in death by his wife, Lorraine in 1998 and is survived by two sons, four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He is buried at Beth Shalom Cemetery in Oregon, Ohio.

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