Walter Schaffer, Jr., age 84, of Eau Claire WI, died September 15, 2022, at home, surrounded by family and under the care of Mayo Hospice and Home Care.
Walt was born on December 8. 1937, in Philadelphia, PA., to Charlotte (Seddon) and Walter Schaffer. The first 22 years of Walt’s life were spent in the inner city of Philadelphia, with short vacations in Southern New Jersey. Only after being drafted into the US Army did, he find that there was “something west of Harrisburg, PA.”, and he made his home in the Midwest from then on. A graduate of Northeast High School, Walt served in the US Army in Texas and Korea before attending Kansas State University where he received a B.S. and an M.S. in Botany. He then enrolled in Graduate School at UW-Madison to study Plant Pathology, and during his first week there he met his future wife, Elaine Kruger, to whom he was married for the 53 years. He continued to claim that she trapped him between a couch and the wall but she claims that he blocked her way out.
Walt worked in the Biology Department at UWEC from 1973-2002 as Biology Greenhouse manager and as Bird Museum curator and director of Animal Facilities, and he taught Horticulture Botany. He made countless life-long friends at UWEC and was always proud of the work that he did. He taught several University Outreach classes on the care of houseplants, gardening, and plant diseases. Plants were a continuous focus of his life, and he judged flowers and houseplants at the Eau Claire and Chippewa County 4-H Fairs. Walt was a founding member of the Association of Education and Research Greenhouse Curators, past President of the Eau Claire County Master Gardner’s Association, and past President of Wisconsin State Master Gardner’s Association. After retirement Walt volunteered at the Mayo Surgery Center, where he truly enjoyed those with whom he worked with.
Walt spent countless hours in his own gardens maintaining them, organizing the wildlife, and making them bloom every day of the summer. Each day seemed like the perfect day to see his yard and garden bloom. His love, memory, and knowledge of plants was unmatched, and his family and friends will miss always having an expert able to come to the rescue for an ailing plant or garden design, or to find out that what we thought was a thriving garden plant was actually just weeds. He loved fishing, both in summer and on ice during winter, and he got to pass this on to his kids and grandkids one last time last winter. Although he did not fly fish, he enjoyed tying flies while sipping single malt scotch. Each Christmas his family would wait to see what his creative mind and steady hand would create for Christmas ornaments that he would give them as gifts - little treasures left behind.
Walt always looked forward to Tuesday Morning Breakfast and Friday Morning Coffee with some of the “old boys” and his stories will undoubtedly be missed. Strangers were not strangers for long, as Walt was kind and tried to include everyone in conversation and loved to talk with anyone and everyone. He loved studying his and others’ genealogy and created a written history for his family. Walt was a great husband, friend, and father and an amazing, proud Grandfather to his four grandkids. Walt will be missed every day in so many ways and was loved by his family and friends.
Walt was preceded in death by his parents, Charlotte (Seddon) Schaffer and Walter Schaffer. Walt is survived by his wife of 53 years, Elaine (Kruger) Schaffer and two children: daughter Kiley (Scott Johnson) Schaffer and son Joel (Alta) Schaffer. He is also survived by four grandchildren Lilyanne, Cade, Lucille, and Vann. And not to be forgotten, his two cats, Max and Ruby. Walt’s family thanks his hospice nursing staff and all of the medical providers who gave us the gift of time. The last five years were a gift that we are so grateful for.
A memorial visitation will be held on Sunday, September 25, 2022 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. at Hulke Family Funeral Home, 3209 Rudolph Rd., Eau Claire, WI 54701. A brief word of remembrance will conclude the visitation at 4 p.m. Private family inurnment will take place at a later date in the Lakeview Cemetery in Eau Claire.
Hulke Family Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
Friends and family may offer condolences online at www.hulkefamilyfh.com.