Richard Schaeffer Remembrances by Former Colleagues

John Lothian

John Lothian

Executive Chairman and CEO

JLN asked some former colleagues of Richard Schaeffer’s to share some remembrances of him. We have collected ones from Mary Bergonia Ross, CME Executive Chairman & CEO Terry Duffy, former NYMEX CEO Jim Newsome and former NYMEX CIO Sam Gaer so far. Here are their comments:

From Mary Bergonia Ross:

Richie was a dear friend, a formidable competitor, and a fearless leader for all of us at NYMEX. My first memory of Richie is handing him a rather large Heating Oil order to execute in the earliest illiquid days of the contract in the early 80s. He certainly came a long way from there. We have been steadfast friends since that moment. We grew up together on the floor but Richie quickly excelled at exchange politics. Having lost my first election for the board, he kindly took me under his wing and taught me a thing or two. Our paths crossed in all the markets including the IPE and Chicago and we shared concerns, interests and lots of laughs. I retired a long time ago, but Richie stayed in close contact and our families became great friends. HIs humor, generosity, and amazing stories enthralled our growing children. We spent many a Thanksgiving together, laughing, betting on horses and eating Chinese food! Through it all, Richie was fearless and totally committed to his devoted wife, Jill, and his children, Rachel, and the twins, Daniel and Matthew. They all kept him going through some horrific health struggles these last few years. But Richie always had a joke, a smile, a hug, and an incredible fight to keep him going.
RIP, Rich! Love you! You will be missed!

~Mary Bergonia Ross

From the CME Group:

“Richie Schaeffer was passionate about everything he did.  As a longstanding member, director and Chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), he helped expand the exchange into the global leader in energy risk management.  He was also instrumental in facilitating the acquisition that allowed that business to become part of CME Group.  Richie will be missed, and we extend our condolences to his family.”

– Terry Duffy, CME Group Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

Jim Newsome, former NYMEX CEO:

Richie Schaeffer was one of the most interesting and volatile personalities I have ever worked with. If he liked you, he would give you the shirt off his back and mean it while doing anything possible to help you. On the flip, he had one of the quickest tempers I have ever seen, and he could show you both traits in a period of minutes. 

SHAF loved practical jokes and was one of the best initiating the joke when least expected. His favorite at a NYMEX board dinner was to slip his shrimp shells in another board members coat pocket while the coat was hanging on the back of the chair!

Another funny which wasn’t a joke was the time that he and I rented member Mark Fisher’s plane for some type of NYMEX trip. It was an evening flight and Richie ordered stone crabs (Richie loved every kind of shellfish ) as our meal for the trip. However the shell crackers didn’t make the trip and Richie used the base of his knife as a hammer to crack the claws. He could be a rather messy eater anyway. When we returned, Fish came up to the office to see how the trip went. I answered that we had a good trip and that the crab smell should disappear in a week or so! Richie, aware of the mess, tipped the attendant generously. He was always one of the most generous tippers I have ever known. 

As far as business went, Richie despised long meetings. Depending upon his mood, he might dismiss a meeting by saying yes. It would drive me nuts, especially after we became a public company. I learned not to challenge him in the meeting because he could explode. I would walk our guests out and then return to his office and close the door. As soon as I entered his office, he would apologize and say, I know we can’t do that, will you please take care of it? I spent a good deal of my time unwinding Richie’s yes’s. Another statement about Richie that I will never forget was made by his boss at ABN Amro when he said that “Richie Schaeffer was the only employee he ever had that could exceed an unlimited expense account.“

Richie loved to play with the fact that I was the slow talking southern regulator while he was the sharp edged fast talking businessman. We made a good team and accomplished much in a short period of time. We also had a great team of senior staff and advisors. 

I really and seriously can’t imagine there being another Richard Schaeffer!

Sam Gaer, Former NYMEX CIO:

I was shocked and very saddened to hear about Richie’s passing.  He was my chairman at Nymex when I was the CIO and to this day really got a kick out of me addressing him as “Mr. Chairman,”  even as recently as Wednesday (Tip of the hat to Jim Newsome for that one).  But above all else, Rich was a friend.  Someone you could count on to pick up the phone, even when he was sick, even when you had your differences, and talk about almost anything. Generous almost to a fault, he rarely refused calls for help from those in need. That was the core of his personality – not the Richie most people knew as the NYMEX chairman or independent businessman, but the Richie that his close friends knew was a kind, sensitive, and loving family man who cherished his wife and children above all else. At Nymex he was a larger than life figure and was the driving force for change during the crucial years leading up to our IPO and eventual merger with CME.  We worked very closely on almost everything having to do with the exchange’s migration from open outcry trading to electronic trading. We traveled, laughed, fought and even cried together on adventures for almost 20 years.  He was a good friend, a mensch, who will certainly be missed.

David Greenberg, former NYMEX Board Member:

Richard Schaeffer started me out on my path to being on the board at NYMEX. He was the first one that supported me throughout my lost elections and then kept going with me to my three wins and put me in his executive committee. 

On the night of 9-11 Richie volunteered and walked down from 63rd St. through Ground Zero to see if Nymex was still standing with disaster recovery. He walked up 15 floors of the building and reported back to the board that night. 

He led the IPO team at NYMEX that successfully launched one of the greatest IPOs in history.

He was a great friend and will be missed. 

Joe Raia, Former NYMEX Senior Vice President of marketing: 

He really did have a very charitable heart – On New Years Eve for several years I took my kids with him and Jill to NYU Hospital to the Kids Cancer ward – Ritchie brought in clowns, magicians, tons of food for the staff.  

He was also very active with Chai Lifeline, a diabetes charity. 

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