Charles Patrick Shaffer
Charles Shaffer, longtime administrator of Lucas County Probate Court who worked on numerous Democratic political campaigns, died Sunday at his Toledo home. He was 64.
Mr. Shaffer had been battling complications from diabetes, heart disease, and kidney failure in recent years but came to work almost every day despite his health challenges, said Probate Judge Jack Puffenberger, who hired him in 1991.
A graduate of St. Francis de Sales High School and Marquette University, Mr. Shaffer worked for the Lucas County Treasurer’s Office from 1977 until moving to Probate Court.
“He had never worked in Probate Court before I hired him, but I had no doubt that he would be a perfect guy to be the administrator for my court,” Judge Puffenberger said.
From his time in the treasurer’s office, Mr. Shaffer understood county finances and was skilled with managing employees.
“I knew he was very good with people,” the judge recalled. “Chuck was a unique sort of guy. He had some unorthodox ways of dealing with things, but people here all just loved him. He was very astute in handling personnel matters and handling the business of the court.”
His sister, Barbara Nichols, said Mr. Shaffer had struggled for several years with health issues but remained dedicated to his work.
“I think he loved his job,” she said. “He really, really cared about the people that he worked with.
“To his credit,” Mrs. Nichols added, “he kept a positive attitude all through one thing after the other health-wise happening to him. He was always upbeat and in good spirits.”
John Irish, who worked with Mr. Shaffer in the treasurer’s office and later as chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Party, recalled Mr. Shaffer working on political campaigns dating to the 1970s.
“In later years, he focused on judicial races,” Mr. Irish said. “That was sort of his forte — helping judges get elected.”
Mr. Shaffer never wanted to run for political office, but enjoyed campaign work.
“He was a great guy and will be dearly missed,” Mr. Irish said.
Despite Mr. Shaffer’s ongoing health issues, his death came a shock to those who worked with him for more than two decades at Probate Court.
“He was one of a kind,” said Bridget Cassady, supervisor of the court’s adoption department. “He was very dedicated to his job, loyal to his employees and his boss. He was a good guy.”
Mr. Shaffer hadn’t been at the office since late March when he underwent surgery. Still, Judge Puffenberger said, he had been “running the court by telephone” and planned to return to the office in a month or so.
Mrs. Nichols said her brother was released from a rehabilitation center Friday and drove himself to and from dialysis on Saturday. Judge Puffenberger said he received a jubilant text message from Mr. Shaffer Saturday afternoon saying, “I’m home!!!!”
The court will miss his expertise, the judge said, adding that at times he deferred to Mr. Shaffer’s judgment.
“We didn’t always see eye-to-eye on how the court should run. I kind of felt occasionally that we should add more frills, that we should be doing more in the way of e-filing and automation,” Judge Puffenberger said. “Chuck’s feeling was that we should keep it basic and do it well, and I think most people who come in contact with our court think it’s well-run, and I think part of the reason is Chuck insisted that we keep it basic and do it well.”
Born May 7, 1953, he was a son of Russell E. and Patricia Shaffer. A sports enthusiast, he also was a fan of the Grateful Dead and, when he was in better health, enjoyed riding motorcycles.
Mr. Shaffer is survived by his sister; a brother, Russel Shaffer; four nieces, and a nephew.
Visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Ansberg-West Funeral Home, 3000 Sylvania Ave. Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Pius X Church.
The family suggests tributes to the American Diabetes Association or the American Heart Association.
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