Robert W. Shaffer | News, Sports, Jobs

SHAFFER, Robert W. “Bob,” of Berea, Ky., passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on January 25, 2022. He was the loving and devoted husband of Carol Phillips Shaffer of 62 years.

Born in 1930 in Altoona, he was the son of the late Rex and the late Catherine Shaffer.

At the age of 13, Bob decided to spend his life serving others. In 1963, he and his father took a bus for the March on Washington, where they heard from Dr. Martin Luther King. “I have a dream” word. Stimulated by these early experiences, Bob became a relentless servant leader and impactful social entrepreneur.

After graduating from Williamsport High School, where he was a high-scoring running back, Bob earned degrees at Wheaton College and Princeton Theological Seminary. In 1964, in response to a call for cabinet ministers to travel to Mississippi to help with voter registration, he worked in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, around the time three young civil rights activists were murdered and buried in a Mississippi levee. He went home and recruited more people to go to Mississippi.

Sargent Shriver, director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, noted Bob’s efforts and chose him as one of twenty specialists to lead poverty-relief programs in the nation’s poorest counties. Bob chose Kentucky’s Cumberland Valley, where he helped found Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp. Now over fifty years old, it was one of the most successful poverty war programs and helped create or maintain 25,000 jobs in rural Kentucky.

Bob was a quintessential community organizer and helped launch countless initiatives and programs in Kentucky and New Jersey, where he served on the board of the Fair Share Housing Center. His skills in advocacy, strategy and negotiation matched his passion and courage. Anti-poverty advocates have faced many threats and he remembers moving his mattress to the bathroom of a motel room because he was afraid someone would shoot through the windows afterwards. a controversial meeting. He told of a colleague who always left a toothpick on the hood of his parked car, to make sure someone didn’t try to rig him with a bomb.

After 20 years of government service, where he supported Head Start programs in the Mid-Atlantic region, Bob and Carol moved from Haddonfield, NJ to a farm on Red Lick in Estill County, Ky. 1991. There they lived and worked among the people they had come to love during their early years. He retired from farming at age 78 and moved to Berea, Ky. At a young age, Bob had oriented his life around faith. He recalls that the message of God’s unconditional love was like a sparkling mountain spring to a thirsty hiker. For nearly 30 years after returning to Kentucky, he served as acting pastor at Presbyterian churches in the Berea area, including Winchester, Mt. Sterling, Whites Memorial, and Union Church in Berea.

His commitment to giving voice to the unheard of burned within him. In his later years, he became the spokesperson for a citizens’ group to stop Ashland Oil, Inc. and Waste Management, Inc. from dumping radioactive soil in the Estill County landfill. Determination, skill and peaceful protest forced the companies to abandon their plans.

Bob always had a smile on his face and a kind word to encourage others. He believed that things could and would get better. He practiced a long fidelity in the same direction – whether through his warmth, his faith, his militancy or his love for his family.

Along with his beloved wife, Carol, Bob leaves to cherish his memory five children: Stephen Patrick Shaffer (Starr) of Weddington, NC; Beth Marcellite Schlitt (Mark) of Haddonfield, NJ: Daniel Efrem Shaffer (Dinah) of Richmond, VA; Collin Winfield Shaffer of Richmond, Virginia; and Robert Benjamin Shaffer of Berea, Ky. He was the grandfather of 15 grandchildren: Clare Shaffer (Brendan) of Greenville, NC; Rex Shaffer (Mady) of Asheville, North Carolina; Samuel Shaffer of Weddington, North Carolina; Raymond Schlitt (Bia) of Richmond, Virginia; Helen and Robert Schlitt of Haddonfield; William, Catharine, Elizabeth, Joseph and Elaine Shaffer of Richmond, Virginia; Camryn Shaffer (Amber) of Berea, Ky.; Aaron, Kierstin and Kaitlin Shaffer of Berea, Ky. Bob was also great-grandfather of Atreyu Thornton, of Little Rock, Arizona. Bob also leaves behind two much loved sisters, Beverly Gast of Whitemarsh, Pa and Patricia Shaffer of Williamsport, Pa. He was predeceased by his older sister, flautist Elaine Shaffer Kurtz.

The family will meet privately at that time with plans to hold a larger memorial in the coming weeks, to further celebrate Bob’s rich life that touched so many. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in honor of Bob may be made at Fair Share Housing Center, 510 Park Blvd., Cherry Hill, NJ 08002 or online at

Kain-Murphy Funeral Services (856) 429-1945.

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