Lisa Schaffner Headshot

Remembering Lisa Schaffner

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Former WOUB student passed away in August

ATHENS, OH – Many former WOUB students are still in shock and mourning the death of their WOUB colleague and friend – Lisa Schaffner. Schaffner passed away in mid-August at the age of 59. She worked at WOUB in the newsroom while attending Ohio University in the early 1980s.

“I was shocked to hear about her passing,” said former WOUB News Director Ann Marie Muehlhauser. “There are many students who pass through the WOUB Newsroom, and some students just stand out, and you know that they are going to make it in the business. Lisa was one of those people. She was smart, willing to learn and a hard worker. Plus, she was one of the nicest people to come through the newsroom.”

“When I heard that Lisa had passed, it was disbelief,” said Shelli Dankoff McClellan, who was a student working at WOUB at the same time as Schaffner. “She was way too young. It is heartbreaking.”

“She’s somebody I started my career with, so it was so sad to hear about her passing,” said Roosevelt Leftwich, who also worked with Schaffner as a student at WOUB. “Fifty-nine is not old. When you hear about somebody in your own age group dying, oh my gosh, you just can’t believe it.”

Schaffner grew up about an hour from Athens in Fairfield County. Her hometown was Baltimore, Ohio.

“She had such a wonderful smile and was such a nice person. Even when she was asking the tough questions, she was smiling,” said Muehlhauser. “It was great to see a homegrown person from Fairfield County do so well at WOUB. I think being from the area meant a great deal in her work at WOUB because she was covering stories that meant something to the people she grew up around.”

“We were all at WOUB to learn and get better. She wanted to be good and learn. Yet at the same time when Lisa was in the newsroom it was brighter. The air was lighter, and there was laughter,” said Dankoff McClellan. “But when it was time to get serious, there was no one more serious than Lisa.”

“She was always happy. It drove me nuts sometimes because I was not always happy,” said Leftwich laughing. “I was not a morning person, and we both worked weekend mornings at WOUB. She would show up bright and happy. She was a very positive person. It didn’t matter if it was early morning, late at night or breaking news. She was always positive and wanted to get the job done. Her positivity was infectious.”

Levine and Schaffner on the NewsWatch desk in 1984
Levine and Schaffner on the NewsWatch desk in 1984

“We probably met the first week of college as freshman at Ohio University. We both started working at East Green radio and then started volunteering at WOUB in the newsroom,” said Steve Levine, one of Lisa’s closest friends. “We anchored our first NewsWatch together and the last one before graduation. She was like my go-to person. Lisa was who I turned to when I needed a confidant or needed to talk about life and professional decisions.”

Schaffner graduated from Ohio University in 1984. She went on to have a 30-year career in TV broadcasting working at stations in Wisconsin and Virginia. Following her broadcast career, Schaffner joined the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and took great pride in creating life-changing relationships through organ donation.

Schaffner wasn’t feeling well right before she passed away, but her cause of death is still unknown.

Levine and Schaffner at Ohio University graduation
Levine and Schaffner at Ohio University graduation

“I ran into Lisa when I was working as a reporter in Baltimore on the DC Sniper story. The sniper struck not too far from Richmond, Virginia where she was working at the time,” said Leftwich. “I didn’t recognize her right off the bat, but she knew me right away. I hadn’t seen her in 20 years, but she was the same person – happy and vibrant.”

“Lisa was a single mom and just got married three months ago. She had finally found the right guy,” said Levine. “It’s so tragic. She was always the bright light in the room and will be greatly missed.”