Shem Shakir (Ralph B. Stafford), St. Paul, MN

  • Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Shem Shakir, St. Paul, MN - Shem M. Shakir (formerly aka Ralph B. Stafford), 72, died Wednesday, July 9, 2014, at Region Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota.

On Saturday, July 12, 2014, he was interred at Marion Memorial Garden Cemetery of Salters. A Memorial Celebration of Life for him is scheduled for Sunday, August 10, 2014, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Macalester College Weyerhaeuser Chapter.

Mr. Shakir was born June 9, 1942, in Greenville, North Carolina, the son of Edward and Kathryn Stafford. For more than 40 years, he had been involved in efforts to bring social justice and economic development to communities in both St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. After a position as sales associate at Merck Pharmaceutical Company in Minneapolis, he spent more than 30 years working in various community-based organizations. He spent more than 15 years with both St. Paul Urban League, as labor organizer and St. Paul Ramsey Action Programs, as community director. For several years, he served in a similar capacity as director of advocacy and outreach with the Minneapolis Urban League. However, he was most proud of his 11-year accomplishments as President and CEO of Frogtown Action Alliance in St. Paul. There, he developed and implemented strategic resident-based neighborhood programs and services. He was responsible for strategic planning, program development and delivery, community organizing, legislative advocacy, fund raising, personnel management and financial controls. He supervised 10 full- and part-time employees and 25 to 30 volunteers. For Frogtown residents, his community-wide initiatives provided business loans and training, economic development, jobs and employment, cross-boundary strategic corridor initiatives and commercial development. The Frogtown community revitalizations, in a sense, can partially be attributed to his collaborative efforts.

Beginning June 2001, he served as CEO with Infinity Consultants, LLC in St. Paul. He created, with three other partners, a consulting group that consults with non-profit organizations to identify financial resources, utilizing various products in capital campaign modalities. He marketed these products to establish home-based businesses for clients, as well as for others with similar interests. He also worked as a planning analyst with Hennepin County (Minneapolis). He was responsible for researching, evaluating and implementing outcome measures and securing resources to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged African American men, ages 18 to 30. To advantage this at-risk population, he presented research information to schools, churches, colleges and partner organizations. This position also required him to work with partner organizations to collaborate on grant applications. He really enjoyed being the liaison to Intergovernmental Working Group and Hennepin County to integrate research findings into policy recommendations. Recently he began a new career in the insurance industry as a licensed insurance producer and educator in the life-insurance field. He sold life insurance policies, while recruiting individuals to become insurance licensed agents with whom he supervised and mentored. Within a few months of joining the staff at ServU Financial Services Opportunity, he became a district leader, and built a team of several agents. He was educated in Williamsburg County Public School System. Before graduating in 1960 from St. Mark High School in Bloomingvale, he played basketball, while being very active in the school’s social clubs and organizations and enjoying entrepreneurial farm life. He studied Industrial Relations at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina (1960-63). While at A&T, he was a member of A&T’s famous Air Force ROTC Pershing Rifle Drill Team. This made possible for him to perform at President John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration Parade in 1961, and by chance, he personally met outgoing Vice President Richard M. Nixon. In August 1963, he also attended the March on Washington, D.C., where he witnessed Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his I Have A Dream speech on the National Mall to more 250,000 people. While at A&T, he also went on several Civic Rights Marches led Rev Jesse Jackson, who was student government president.

After relocating to St. Paul in the early 1970s, he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Industrial Relations from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul. He pursued a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Psychological Services at St. Mary’s College in Minneapolis. Later, he received a Certificate in Reflective Leadership and Public Policy from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute at the University of MN in Minneapolis. With support from the St. Paul Insurance Companies, he participated as a community organizer in the Leadership Initiatives in Neighborhoods at the National Development Center in Washington, DC. Upon completion, he received a Certification in Neighborhood Development. Additionally, he participated in numerous institutes, conferences, workshops, seminars, webinars, and while doing graduate work along the way over the years.

Survivors are: his wife, Sybil; one son, Cabral of St. Paul, Minnesota; four daughters, Tia Whitlock (Sean) of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota; Ayana Shakir (Jaibrail A. Jefferson) of Taif, Saudi Arabia; Ayoka Shakir of Atlanta, Georgia; and Niambia Shakir of St. Paul, Minnesota; and six grandchildren.

Memorials may be to the Edward and Kathryn Stafford Endowed Scholarship Fund at North Carolina State University at: Attn: Ms. Ann McCabe Beamon, College of Arts and Sciences, General Classroom Building – A411, 1601 East Market Street, Greensboro, NC 27410. Please write in the check memo section: Edward & Kathryn Stafford Endowment.

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