Raymond Philip Shafer was born March 5, 1917, in New Castle, Pennsylvania to Rev. David P. and Mina Belle Shafer. He moved to Meadville in 1933 when his father was appointed pastor to the First Christian Church. Ray Shafer is the youngest of a family of five (siblings are Ruth, Paul, Harold and Gladys). He attended Meadville High School for only his senior year, but was successful, being elected president to several school organizations. Ray Shafer began his excellence in sports as he became a member of the school's championship basketball team. He also played Little League baseball and football. Shafer similarly demonstrated his academic achievements as he was named to the National Honor Society and was valedictorian of his class. His involvement in Boy Scouts (achieving Eagle Scout) began at this time and was to continue throughout his life.
Ray Shafer attended Allegheny College from 1934 to 1938. He was class president for four years, and president of the Allegheny Undergraduate Council. His various activities included basketball (All-Pennsylvania), soccer (All-American), golf, track and field, Phi Beta Kappa, Rhodes Scholarship candidacy, Phi Kappa Psi, Debating Club, and the A Capella Choir. Here he met his wife Jane Harris Davies '39; they married July 5, 1941.
Shafer's later involvement with Allegheny College includes a brief stint as Instructor of Business Law, the receipt of an honorary degree in 1963, service on the Board of Trustees (elected to the Board first in May, 1964), and a year as President of the College (1985-1986). In 1990, Allegheny College with the Meadville-Western Crawford County Chamber of Commerce instituted the annual Raymond P. Shafer Award for Distinguished Community Service. Shafer continues to serve on the Board of Trustees. In October, 1999, the History & Heritage Committee of Allegheny College sponsored a panel to evaluate Shafer's gubernatorial administration.