Rest in Peace: Maya Schaper

On Thursday morning, I received some sad news via email that Maya Schaper, the woman seen in the picture above, had passed.

Dear Patricia,

I wanted to share the sad news that Maya passed away this past Tuesday.
Her service will be at Riverside chapel on 76th street and Amsterdam avenue today at 10:00am.
Sorry for the short notice…

The email came from Maya’s son Jeffrey and his wife Camilla.

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Maya was the sole proprietor of Maya Schaper Cheese and Antiques (106 West 69th Street) from 1994 to 2009. Before that, her business of the same name operated on the southeast corner of 71st and Columbus Avenue from 1974 through 1986.

Maya was 91 years young when she passed away. I say 91 years young because Maya lived life to the fullest and did not allow trials and tribulations to stop her. Many details that “prove” this truism can be found in the 2020 article ILTUWS published about her.

In the photo above, Maya is enjoying a glass of wine at an outdoor table at Santa Fe (73 West 71st Street). She enjoyed their burgers and wine so she frequented the place on a fairly regular basis.

Upon hearing that Ms. Schaper had died, one of Santa Fe’s bartenders (Scott) remarked, “She was a sweetheart…always asked about my family and remembered my daughter’s name.”

The last time I saw Maya was when she was walking south on the westside of Columbus Avenue with her daughter-in-law. We encountered each other near the entrance of 67 Gourmet Cheese (194 Columbus Ave). That shop’s manager, Martin Johnson, said “Maya was a pioneer of independent artisan retailing.”

Many of the people who work at 67 Wine and Spirits (179 Columbus Ave) remembered her fondly and were sad to hear she had passed away.

In fact, a number of years ago years ago, 67 Wine and Spirits offered wine tastings at Maya’s shop when it was on 69th Street. One of the people (Bart Hopkins) hosting those tastings, upon hearing she’d died, said, “Maya was an iconic figure that made the Upper West Side a unique neighborhood. Her charming personality was the driving force behind her cheese and antiques shop. She was loved by all who knew her and will be greatly missed but will always be remembered.”

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Another merchant who has memories of Maya is Lucretia La Mira of Sensuous Bean.

“I remember at one point Maya was between shops and asked me if I would sell some of her antiques,” said La Mira. “Of course I said yes. When I asked ‘where do I put them? Our shop is so tiny,’ she replied, ‘in the window because they are so beautiful and real, next to the sweets.’” And La Mira added, “Well, sadly we will miss another icon on the UWS.”

Wade, the sole proprietor of Wade Maxx Art and Framing (191 Columbus), framed mirrors that Maya sold in her shop on 69th Street. When he learned of her passing, he offered to frame a photo of her (if the family could provide it) in the event they needed one for any celebrations or memorials held in her honor.

“Through her cozy, quaint cheese shop on 69th, Maya made countless people happy,” said Upper West Sider Tiffani Tranchina.

Two UWS celebrities – actress Vanesa Redgrave and Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary – were regular customers and will no doubt be disheartened by the news of Maya’s passing.

The last time I saw Yarrow, he was dining on the avenue, and he recalled happy encounters in Maya’s shop.

Those happy encounters will be just some of the many legacies Ms. Schaper leaves behind, and memories of her will be around for years to come.


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