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Charles Richard Shaffer passed following injuries from a fall in Monterey, California, at age 91, on October 19, 2013.
He was born in Michigan City, Indiana, on January 18, 1922, and grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan in Long Beach, Indiana. There, playing with balsa wood models of airplanes on the dunes and in a family home sitting on stilts on the beach, he began a lifelong passion for flying, which led him eventually to the Army Air Corps. At the ripe age of 21, as Aircraft Commander, he captained a brand new, one million dollar B-29 and a newly coalescing crew across the Pacific to a base on Guam from where he flew 32 missions over Japan before returning safely home.
He became an avid sports aviator, sharing his love of flying with his children, who grew up understanding the stick and pedals in Piper Cubs and Super Cubs. Later, he restored a vintage Ercoupe, and then a Cessna 172 that he owned until he was in his eighties, flying regularly from his home in Chicago to EAA meetings in Wisconsin, to Florida, and once cross-country and back to California.
He married Angela Froehde after the war. With her support, he built a successful career in sales management on the East Coast and then in the Chicago area. He led his growing family on a parade of camping adventures from Acadia, Maine, to Isle Royale, from Rock Lake, Canada, to Virginia Beach. These trips included sailing, rowing or motoring the home-built boats he crafted with his children. At campfires, he played the ukulele and sang songs into the night, inspiring in his children a love of the outdoors and of music. He often recited the classical poetry he memorized at school and passed along as well his love of language and reading. When Angela died unexpectedly at the age of 39, he faced one of the great tests of his life. He kept his young family together, and he saw this as among his most critical challenges and important accomplishments.
Eventually, he established his own packaging business, which kept him busy until he was in his 70s. He was an early adopter of technology, buying an Apple II computer in the late 1970s and learning how to program it in BASIC to track sales and accounts.
Later in life, he met and married Phyllis Cook. Longing to return to water, she joined him in buying a lake home in southern Indiana where they enjoyed boating, fishing and entertaining, when they weren't busy barnstorming a plane around the Midwest, camping under their wing at night. Phyllis passed away in 2004 and shortly thereafter he relocated to California to be closer to his children.
Other leisure pursuits included woodworking and painting, mostly watercolors. In both, his handiwork and attention to fine detail were widely admired and praised.
He was preceded in death by his sister Nancy. He is survived by a brother, Fredrick; all of his children, Susan, David, Paul, Richard and Mark; a stepson, John Cook; a stepdaughter, Jill Quinn; 13 grandchildren, Angela, Christine Ida, Tenney, Cynthia, Tracy, Kerry, Megan, Kaelin, Jaden, Jordan, Nichole, Sabrina and Heather; and four great-grandchildren, Anya, Carlie, Casey and Desmond.
Viewing and funeral service will be held on Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, at noon at Ahlgrim Family Funeral Services, 201 N. Northwest Highway, Palatine, IL 60067, with burial to follow at St. Michael the Archangel Cemetery, 1185 W. Algonquin Road, Palatine, IL 60067.
For online condolences, visit www.missionmortuary.com.