One woman's love of square dancing is paying it forward for the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.

Dee Shafer's love of square dancing will benefit cancer patients and the cancer center where her husband was a patient at one time.

On Saturday, April 15, square dancers from Eldon, Rolla, St Louis, and St Robert attended the first annual Dee Shafer Memorial with all the proceeds going to the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. The dancers came to the memorial to dance and to honor Dee’s memory, as well as her love of square dancing.

Dee was born in Indiana. She became interested in square dancing in 1986 and started square dance lessons. A year later through square dancing, Dee met Dave. In 1987 they married and for the next thirty years they were both involved in square dancing.

Dee was a member of the Travelers Square Dancing Club in St Robert. The club has been around for about 60 years old. The club met at Fort Leonard Wood until the Engineer School came in. The Rec Center where the club had met was converted to a museum, so the club moved to the St Robert Community Center.

Dee loved her family and grandkids, according to those who knew her best. Square dancing was a big love for her and she loved to dance. She was an avid square dancer and was known for her excellent square dancing in square dancing clubs in Missouri and throughout the United States.

“Square dancing was her thing in life. It was a big thing for her. She loved to dance. It was her big passion in life,” Dave Shafer said about his wife.

Dee competed locally and nationally. She was Square Dancer of the Year for Missouri in 2008 and served as president of the Missouri Federation of Square N Round Dance clubs in 2006. Dee was a people person, according to her friends. She was well loved in the square dancing community. She was a friendly person who convinced “un square dancers “ to try square dancing.

The square dancers that spoke with the Daily Guide, during the dance, said she was always looking out for the other guy, whether it was her husband, grandkids, or other dancers. They remembered how patient she was as a square dancing teacher, how she once drove another dancer to an appointment because he needed a ride, and how well she danced. They spoke of her smile, laughter and love for square dancing.

When she wasn’t square dancing, she was out volunteering in the community, according to her friends. She was a member and volunteer for the American Legion Auxiliary Post, 331, St Robert for 15-20 years. She helped out with poppy sales, she interviewed and selected girls for girls state, and she volunteered at the St James Veterans home.

Dee was “always out there for other people, not herself" and she was the “ most fantastic woman you’ll ever find. She never put herself first. She was always there to help out," Dave Shafer said.

When asked why the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center was chosen to receive all the proceeds from the Memorial Dance Dave Shafer said, “ I had skin cancer, melanoma. When I was a patient Dee decided she wanted to support the cancer center. She became interested in Ellis Fischel’s cancer prevention programs. About 6 years ago Dee started making yearly donations to Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. She donated because she wanted to help make mammograms affordable for women who couldn't afford them. She donated because she really cared about others. It was one of those things she really supported. She liked the staff at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, the programs the center had had, and how supportive the staff and center were of cancer patients and their families."

When asked why he and friend, Marie Seman, decided on a square dancing memorial, Dave said, “ When she passed we had very large funeral. People from all over attended. The local square dancers, (from clubs in Missouri), decided they wanted to have a memorial dance for her. The square dancers wanted to do something in return to her for all the things she did and in memory of how much she loved square dancing.”

Walter Burr, caller from Germany, wanted to be a part of the memorial dance. He had met Dave and Dee a few years ago and had become friends. When his sister, Marie Seman, mentioned the memorial dance, he asked if if could be the caller. Walter and his wife are both callers in Munich, Germany.

Marie Seman, coordinator and planner of the memorial said, “ She was the first real friend I made after I moved down here. She was a wonderful person, kind and loving. She always was smiling and laughing. I miss her so much. It just hasn't been the same without her. I wanted to do something to honor Dee’s memory and she loved square dancing so much I couldn't think of a better way to honor her.”

The other square dancers felt the same way about Dee. They came out to the memorial to do a little square dancing, spend some time with Dave, and honor Dee ‘s memory and love of square dancing. After all, “ Square dancing is friendship set to music,” according to Duck ‘n Dive Square Dancing Club, Rolla, MO.