Well-known Minneapolis cashier remembered as a neighborhood ‘pillar’
It seemed an entire neighborhood on Saturday was grieving longtime cashier Robert Skafte, 66, of Oak Grove Grocery in Minneapolis’s Loring Park neighborhood.
The love for Skafte could only begin to be quantified in the mementos that made up a growing memorial near the steps of the store. Although it was closed “until further notice,” the light over the awning still shone for the beloved shopkeeper a day after Minneapolis police say he was killed inside the place he worked for decades.
Police on Friday arrested Taylor Schulz, 44, for allegedly beating and stabbing Skafte to death with a golf club before barricading himself in the apartment building across the street for six hours.
“It’s heartbreaking. I haven’t even slept yet,” said one of Skafte’s former coworkers, Oliver Master. “The amount of heartbreak I feel is just it’s like I lost a member of my family.”
Master worked with Skafte for a few years. He and his partner, Ashlee McCay were still taking in the news on Saturday afternoon.
“He’s just an angel that the community lost,” McCay added in a statement.
Beyond the community store, Skafte was “a pillar of his neighborhood and community,” as described by one of his closest friends, Stephanie Grey. The pair danced in productions together dating back to 1993, she said.
Skafte had “numerous memorable roles,” Grey said, adding, “He was an excellent dance partner. Always supportive, caring and present.”
“This tragedy is quite literally evil colliding with the brightest of light,” Grey continued, concluding, “It just simply can’t be…”
José Herrera is the board chair of the Stevens Square Community Organization where he said Skafte was a regular volunteer alongside his dog Sammie (who everyone remembered by name as well).
Over the years, Skafte started community gardens and the Stevens Square Farmers Market, Herrera said.
“It’s like, literally impossible to quantify all the things he’s done in our neighborhood,” he said.
“He really made like the neighborhood safer and better to live in and more welcoming,” he continued, adding, “To have such an abrupt end to that, it’s hard.”
People gathered outside Oak Grove Grocery soon after the news of Skafte’s death emerged on Friday night.
Reed Fellner, a dear friend of Skaftke’s and Grey’s partner, was there as the vigil began to grow.
“Such a good person in every single way,” he said. “But it’s going to be difficult to get over this, because man, if there’s anyone who doesn’t deserve it, it’s this man.”
Roger Barrett on Saturday said he and Skafte grew to be close friends years after their decade-long romantic partnership.
“I’ll never forget the first time I saw Robert,” Barrett wrote, adding that Skafte was buying toe tape for dancing “at the old Burch Pharmacy on Franklin.”
“It sounds corny,” he continued. “But he had this light around him and his bright blue eyes just melted my heart. He carried that light with him every day and shared it with so, so, so many people.”