The creator of Mr. Bubble bubble bath and Snowy Bleach was born poor but died a wealthy businessman whose generosity was well-known.
Harold Schafer was born on a small farm in the Badlands of North Dakota. He held many jobs in his youth including working as a theater usher, a hotel bellhop, a paperboy, and a gas station attendant.
In 1935, Schafer married Marian Nelson. They had five children before divorcing in 1965. Later that same year, he married Sheila Limond, a divorced mother of three.
In 1936, Schafer worked as a traveling salesman. In 1942 at age 30, Schafer began packaging and selling a product he called Gold Seal Floor Wax. He typed labels by hand and taped them onto old cans in his basement. The Gold Seal Company was born. In 1943, he left his job to devote himself full time to his fledgling business, which made only $901.02 in profits in the first year. Schafer borrowed money from friends to keep his business going. His business grew slowly, but in 1945, Schafer introduced a new product called Glass Wax. In 1948, Glass Wax went national. Sales boomed. By the age of 36, Schafer was a self-made millionaire. Schafer continued to release successful products including Snowy Bleach and Mr. Bubble bubble bath. In 1986, Airwick Industries bought the Gold Seal Company, but several of the original Gold Seal products can still be found in supermarkets and drugstores today.
Even while experiencing business success, Schafer kept his eyes and his heart on his hometown of Medora. Because of Schafer's efforts, Medora grew into the largest recreational area in North Dakota. In 1975, Schafer received one of the state's highest honors, The Rough Rider Award. During his life, Schafer was the recipient of many honors, including becoming a member of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, and recognitions from the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA, and 4-H Clubs. Schafer was also the youngest recipient of the Horatio Alger Award in 1951.
Schafer is best known not for the money he made, but for the money that he gave away. It is said that he made millions and gave away millions. He anonymously put many North Dakota kids through college. Schafer established a foundation for young North Dakota entrepreneurs. Many hospitals, colleges, and parks benefited from the generous spirit of Schafer.
Schafer was initiated into Bismarck Chapter DeMolay in Bismarck, North Dakota, in 1929. Schafer was recruited personally by Dad Land to serve as Executive Officer for DeMolay in North Dakota. He was a Legion of Honor recipient. Schafer held Masonry's 33rd Degree and served as Potentate of El Zagal Shrine. Schafer was inducted into the DeMolay Hall of Fame on June 16, 1995.
"Fatherless, I joined DeMolay in 1929 at the suggestion of my Masonic employer. DeMolay taught me to accept my own and others' strengths and weaknesses, achievements and failures, likenesses and differences, as I grew from a boy into manhood."