Gary F. Chaffee, age 84, passed away on October 9, 2023. He was born on June 8, 1939 in Newton. He is survived by his wife of 55 years Claudia Rose Justice Chaffee, son Paul and daughter-in-law Shellie Lynn Foulk Chaffee, grand children: Kyle Allan Chaffee and wife Diana, Sgt Caleb Chaffee, and Reagan Chaffee. Great Grandchildren Jasmyne Shelby Chaffee, Ariana Norris Chaffee, Kyle Allan Chaffee Jr., Avery Lynn Brandt and Payton Bailey Kilbourn. He is also survived by brother Myron G. Chaffee and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents James F. Chaffee and Lora Norrine Keady Chaffee, son Michael D. Chaffee, brothers James F. Chaffee III and Daniel Kent Chaffee and also by numerous Aunts, Uncles and cousins.
He attended HS in Redondo Beach, CA, and took advantage of the inexpensive college tuition in CA public colleges. He was subsequently hired by the City of Los Angeles to work as a lab technician, performing bacteriological, chemical and radiological testing.
In 1962 he received an invitation to join a Peace Corps project in the San Francisco Valley of Brazil. He was located in the town of Juazeiro in the state of Bahia. Returning from Brazil in late 1963. He enlisted in the Kansas Army National Guard not long after returning from Brazil.
He was employed by Kinder Mfg. Co ( a Division of Congoleum Corp.) in 1965 in the sales dept. He took a leave of absence when his unit was activated and sent to Ft. Carson, CO.
In 1968 he was deployed to Viet Nam where he was attached to the 173rd Airborne at LZ English and LZ Uplift, which were located along the coast North of Qui Nhon. Later he was attached to the 4th Division near Kon Tum in the central highlands.
When he returned from Viet Nam he resumed his career at Kinder Mfg in Newton as Sales Manager. In 1970 he was asked to relocate to the Kings Mountain, North Carolina plant as General Manager. He served in that capacity until 1975 when he was asked to return to Newton as the General Manager. In 1986 the Newton plant was closed and he declined an offer to relocate to a plant in Pennsylvania, opting instead to open his own plant in Newton, Lifestyle Interiors. That company reorganized in the mid 90’s and became Heartland Bedding. In 2003 the plant was closed and Gary chose to retire. He worked several part time jobs from his retirement until 2020.
Interests throughout his life were varied. During his time in California he learned to sail and enjoyed it very much. Sailing on the ocean was much different than sailing on windy Kansas lakes though. Genealogy became a passion and he was always researching his family tree. Business trips and vacations gave him the means to take long walks through old cemeteries looking for the grave site of an ancestor that he never met or an opportunity to meet with a long lost cousin or other family member. He was the driving force behind many dinners and get-togethers with distant relatives. He didn’t know a stranger and even into his 70’s would pick up the occasional hitch hiker only because he remembered thumbing his way around Los Angeles in his youth. Gary was a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus and truly enjoyed the fellowship that he shared with his brother Knights. He will be missed by many.
Funeral Mass will be 10:00 a.m., Saturday, October 14, 2023, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Newton with The Reverend Andrew Bergkamp, Celebrant and The Reverend James Mainzer Con-Celebrant. Recitation of the Holy Rosary will be 6:00 p.m., Friday, October 13, 2023, at St. Mary Catholic Church. The Casket will be open at the Church for one hour prior to the Rosary and the family will receive friends following the Rosary in the Church Parish Hall. Burial will be in The Greenwood Cemetery Newton with Military Honors.
Memorials may be made to the St. Mary Catholic Church and Left with Petersen Funeral Home.