Friday, March 11, 2022

Tom Schaefer, a facilities assistant at the UW School of Social Work for more than 25 years as well as an avid marine educator, enthusiastic cyclist and staunch conservationist, died in a boating accident while in Mexico on March 4, 2022.

Also killed in the same accident was Tom’s friend and diving partner, Evan Abramson, a research associate professor with the UW College of the Environment’s Earth and Space Sciences.

“Many knew Tom as our resident ‘can-do’ employee,” said Vicki Anderson-Ellis, assistant dean of finance and administration. “Scarcely a day would go by without Tom creating comfortable surroundings for our faculty, staff and students or helping out with building and equipment maintenance.”

Tom received a Master of Science degree in oceanography from the University of Washington in 1984. Since 1985, he had volunteered as an educator at the Seattle Aquarium and Pacific Marine Research.

Second to his love of the ocean and the marine environment was his passion for cycling. He spent many weekends cycling Puget Sound, Mount Rainier and other scenic Northwest routes.

Tom is survived by his partner Grace and his niece Lerryn, along with a community of friends who knew him as someone who lived life to its fullest. The School of Social Work will make a donation in Tom’s memory to REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation), where Tom had a long-standing affiliation. Friends and colleagues can post their condolences and remembrances at