For 31 years, Dr. Robert L. McCaffrey Sr. led the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District (GJUESD) by hard work and fiscal responsibility elevating education for all Galt students. He passed away at home on Oct. 9 at the age of 91 with his four children by his side.
According to Dr. Karen Schauer, current superintendent, McCaffrey started working in the district in 1953 when he began teaching seventh grade and then went on to teach eighth grade. He went on to become a superintendent in the Arcohe district and Montezuma district in Stockton before starting his tenure back in Galt.
“When I first became superintendent, Dr. McCaffrey was extremely generous with his time to talk to me about his leadership experiences,” Schauer said. “My observations of his leadership over time were that he supported employees to truly grow and learn. He empowered school administrators to soar for their schools and grow in their leadership. This included Dr. Jeff Jennings, progressing in his Galt career from teacher, principal and assistant superintendent to superintendent, and Dr. Jerry Keen, serving as principal to service as the GJUESD Director of Educational Services.”
Ron Rammer, principal of McCaffrey Middle School, has a very personal connection with McCaffrey.
“Dr. McCaffrey was the best friend of my father, Irwyn Rammer, for the past 86 years,” Rammer said. “They met each other in kindergarten in 1933 and remained best friends since that time. That, in itself, is remarkable. Dr. McCaffrey was my godfather and, when I became a teacher in the Bay Area, he talked to me about teaching in Galt.”
Eventually, Rammer would start teaching at Galt High School until McCaffrey asked him to interview for the vice principal at Greer Middle School.
“He was incredible with school finance and worked tirelessly to keep our district fiscally sound,” Rammer said. “He was committed to our school and community, trying to always bring the best educators and staff to our district. He led us firmly, but compassionately, building a school district that was well respected across the region, as well as the state. I am proud to have been able to open Robert L. McCaffrey Middle School and hopefully end my career here as the principal.”
According to his family in his obituary, he was born to Louis and Amy McCaffrey on July 26, 1928 in Stockton. He came from humble beginnings, survived the Great Depression with hard work to help his family survive. He was a part of what many call “The Greatest Generation” and graduated from high school at the age of 16. He earned his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of the Pacific and began teaching in Manteca in 1949.
His obituary said he served in the United States Air Force in both Europe and Africa. Upon his return, he met the love of his life Arleen. They were married in 1952 and were together 54 years. He completed his master’s degree in 1958 from University of the Pacific in educational administration. He returned to teaching and was soon appointed superintendent of Arcohe Union School District.
His daughter Debbie McCaffrey said his was always interested in helping the community.
“He was proud of the schools he built without taxpayers’ money,” Debbie said. “He got developers involved. He said he knew the town needed a shopping center, so he told developers he would give them Galt elementary property if they built him a new school.”
Rammer said McCaffrey left a legacy to the community and especially the students, one in particular.
“One of the fondest memories I have is last June when Dr. McCaffrey was able to see his great granddaughter, Emma Streeter, go through her eighth grade promotion ceremony here at MMS,” Rammer said. “Having him in the audience was incredible. Along with promotion, we have an annual eighth grade awards breakfast, and each year Dr. McCaffrey would attend and present the Student of the Year awards. I truly appreciate what he has done for me personally and for our community. He will be missed.”