Joseph Clarence Shafer

October 10, 1930 ‒ March 20, 2020

Lewis Center, Ohio
Formerly of Marion, Ohio

Joe Shafer, a resident of Marion for more than 57 years, formerly of Piqua and Covington, Ohio, died March 20, 2020, at Ohio Living Sarah Moore in Delaware after six months of declining health following a fall. He was 89 years old.

Joseph Clarence Shafer was born in his parents’ home in Piqua, Ohio, on October 10, 1930, second of the four sons of Clarence LeRoy and Mary Josephine (Ganger) Shafer. At the age of 13, faced with the difficult decision to decide which parent to live with when they divorced, Joe accepted the invitation from his maternal grandparents, Leander Augustus and Ida Jane (Wiley) Ganger, to come live with them in Covington.

Joe’s grandparents reinforced a strong sense of responsibility, self-reliance, and integrity that would define Joe’s character for the rest of his life. His grandmother asked him for five dollars per month in exchange for room, board, and laundry.  To provide it, Joe went to work in grocery stores and ran the movie theater’s popcorn machine after school and on weekends during his teen years. He graduated from Covington High School in 1948 and Miami Jacobs College (business and administration) in 1950, and he went to work in the personnel office at Hobart Manufacturing Company in Troy. He left his grandparents’ home when he was drafted into the U. S. Army in 1950. Although he was trained at Fort Bliss, Texas, on anti-aircraft gunnery for the Korean conflict, Joe’s administrative skills were valued by his commanding officers, and he served most of his tour of duty as a company clerk at Fort Bliss.  While still in the Army, Joe married Shirley Ann Penrod of Piqua, to whom he had been introduced by friends before he was drafted, on November 6, 1952. Joe and Shirley lived in El Paso until Joe was discharged from the Army six months later, then they returned to Piqua.

During the years in Piqua immediately after his military service, Joe worked at Hobart, for Armstrong and Company (a beer distributer), and Connolly and Company (a grocery distributer). Joe and Shirley’s two sons, Mike and Steve, were born during this time. In 1961, Joe was recruited to join Super Foods Services, Inc., of Bellefontaine, Ohio, the supplier of IGA grocery stores in Ohio, as a district supervisor (later, retail counselor).  The new job necessitated the family’s move to Marion to accommodate Joe’s daily drives to advise IGA stores assigned to him throughout north-central Ohio. Although he was offered opportunities for advancement in the company’s state headquarters, Joe never wanted to trade his independence as a field rep for an office culture and life at a desk, so he remained “on the road again” (his favorite Willie Nelson song for obvious reasons) until he retired from Super Foods in 1992.

Both of Joe and Shirley’s sons attended Marion Public Schools and graduated from Marion Harding High School.  Joe and Shirley were active supporters of their sons’ assorted academic, athletic, and musical activities and were members of the PTA and various booster groups. Many friendships they developed with other students’ parents were life-long. Despite his work life driving for hours each day, Joe enjoyed road trips for family vacations, and the Shafers had memorable ones in a variety of locations, including Washington DC, Arizona, Boston, and northern Minnesota (the last for the fishing).

After Joe retired, he and Shirley enjoyed travel throughout the United States, often with Joe’s brothers and their wives, or Shirley’s sisters. Casinos in Wheeling, Cincinnati, and Las Vegas were occasional destinations, but neither Joe nor Shirley could have been considered high rollers by any stretch of the imagination (Joe’s luck at $5 blackjack never matched Shirley’s uncanny abilities with penny slots). Joe pursued his love of fishing and hunting, and he became proficient enough at black powder riflery to win several local prizes. An exceptionally large northern pike he caught in Michigan was a long-time resident mounted on the wall of the basement, the only place Shirley would let him display it. In their later years, Joe and Shirley were happiest tending their condo at Eaglewood in Marion, hosting friends for casual dinners and card games, and enjoying the company of their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and other family members.

Shirley’s declining health required them to move to assisted living at Primrose Retirement Community in Marion, but she passed away just several months later in December 2017.  Joe continued to reside at Primrose, and then for several months at The Inn at Bear Trail in Lewis Center, Ohio. He was hospitalized in early March 2020, then entered into hospice care at Sarah Moore in Delaware.

In addition to his beloved wife of more than 65 years, Joe was preceded in death by his parents and their spouses, all three of his brothers (Richard, Bruce, Byron), two of his brothers’ wives, and one of Shirley’s two sisters.  He is survived by his sons, Michael (Kathryn) of Powell, Ohio, and Steven (Ardene) of Wake Forest, North Carolina; two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; sisters-in-law Marlene Shafer (Byron) of Troy and Kay Penrod of Powell; and three nieces and one nephew, and their families.

Funeral arrangements are in the care of Snyder Funeral Homes, Denzer Chapel.  A memorial service will be held at a later date.

We have faith that Joe once more enjoys company and laughter with Shirley, always together, and forever on the road again.

Snyder Funeral Homes of Marion are honored to serve Joe’s family.  Online condolences may be expressed by visiting

  • To Joe’s family,
    Am saddened to learn of Joe’s passing but heartened to know Joe lived such a long and fulfilling life. My family owned the Lewis & Coffing IGA in Fredericktown for over 30 years through 1980. During that span in the ’60’s Joe was our warehouse (Super Foods) counselor. Besides providing very efficient service his visits to our store always brightened our day, a testament to his spirited nature . No finer gent ever graced Ohio.
    Rick Coffing