On the Occasion of Dr. Roland Schaette’s 80th Birthday: An Obituary

Roland Schaette was authentic. He combined many aspects that often seem difficult to reconcile in one person. He had a great intellectual spirit and was down-to-earth at the same time. Art, culture, and the humanities were as close to him as natural science. He was deeply rooted spiritually and at the same time had both feet firmly on the ground. The understanding and working of anthroposophical approaches in the world were serious and significant matters for him.

Born in Munich on May 26, 1942, Roland Schaette grew up with a sister and a brother. In his father’s garden, young Roland discovered his interest in plants at an early age. He enthusiastically perceived the different processes in nature and recognized it as a complex world full of wonders. He was particularly interested in medicinal plants, and after graduating from high school he decided to study to become a pharmacist, which he completed with a doctorate. However, his studies not only led him to his vocation as a holistic pharmacist, but also to his private happiness. He met Ute Broser, whom he soon married. From then on, the Schaette couple travelled the world together, always on a mission to study the various forces of nature and the interrelations of the plant world.

In the meantime, the small Bavarian town of Bad Waldsee had become their German home, where Roland Schaette initially worked in the production and purchasing department of his father’s company for natural animal remedies, Dr. Schaette. Here, the future managing director of the company played a formative role in shaping it’s philosophy. He was concerned with creating a space for culture and spiritual development. To this day for example, the so-called Wednesday breakfasts take place, where all employees come together for interaction and discussion. Roland Schaette was appreciated as a generous and patient supervisor who relied on trust instead of control. But he also did not mince matters. If something didn’t suit him or if he didn’t think something made sense, he made this clear. At the same time, however, he always remained warm-hearted and open to new impulses and experiments.

Especially the holistically oriented scientific method of Goetheanism interested and inspired Roland Schaette throughout his life. He recognized in the processes of the plant world and in the animal kingdom a treasure of healing for man. Thus, he once said, “My main concern is to bring Goetheanism to humanity as a whole!” In the late 1970s, the enthusiastic pharmacist heard about another pharmacist who, also driven by Goethe, wanted to cultivate medicinal plants in the desert of Egypt. After the first meeting between Ibrahim Abouleish, the founder of SEKEM Initiative, and “Rolo”, as the Egyptians called him, a deep friendship quickly developed, even a congeniality of souls, as both repeatedly expressed. Roland Schaette played a formative role in the establishment of the initiative for sustainable development. Together with his friend Ibrahim, he even founded the Atos Pharma company for herbal medicines in Egypt. Over the course of his life, he made over a hundred trips to the Egyptian desert and also worked tirelessly from Germany for those matters that were so close to his heart. He was particularly interested in the cultural impulse, and so he was especially committed to the educational institutions and social activities of the SEKEM community. First as a friend, later in the official position as chairman of the board of the SEKEM Friends Germany. Roland Schaette was a loyal and quintessentially benevolent friend of SEKEM since the early 1980s – not only did he shape countless matters with his willpower, but he also gave important spiritual impulses. Today’s Managing Director Helmy Abouleish remembers him as a “spiritual brother”, without whom the SEKEM initiative, which meanwhile has received many awards and is known as a beacon for sustainable development, would not exist.

Thus, Roland Schaette left quite a few traces in this world and managed to lead the following generation not simply into his own footprints, but rather into the ideas, in order to take and shape their own steps from there.

On March 21, Roland Schaette died in hospital in Bad Waldsee, Germany, after falling ill with bone marrow damage in 2021.