A toast in celebration, to the life of Verna Lee Shafer (1929 to 2019). A wonderful mother, grandmother, great grandmother, wife, sister, friend, artist, entrepreneur, business owner, avid gardener, community organizer, visionary and all around active, engaged and committed member of society. There was no dream too big or detail too small that Verna wouldn’t whole heartedly devote her undivided attention to it. She was a woman of action.
Verna was born in Chickasha Oklahoma to Henry “Hank” and Madelyn Yates their first of two daughters. The Yates family spent the first years of Verna’s young life enduring the hardships of the dust bowl and great depression. To escape dust related health issues the family moved to Phoenix, AZ. While in Phoenix Verna spent her developmental years building lifelong friendships and a passion for art.
A business opportunity prompted the Yate’s family move to Flagstaff, AZ where Verna spent her senior year of high school. It was there that Verna met the good looking shortstop on the baseball team with a “hotrod” ford car who quickly became the love of her life, Frank Allen Shafer. After graduating Frank and Verna eloped and were married on Halloween day of 1947. The couple resided in Flagstaff for 55 active years until Frank’s health forced their move to the lower elevation of Beaver Creek. Verna would always call Flagstaff her home town. While in Flagstaff, Verna was active in the community working various jobs, following her children’s pursuits, volunteer work especially the art community. Verna owned and operated an interior design studio (The Finishing Touch) with her partner Debbie (Booth) for many years. Verna was both a student and teacher of art her entire life. During the final days of her life, as her health was failing, she found the desire and strength to give her final (hours long) art lesson to her great granddaughter Taylor Engle (19). Taylor was assisting in the care of her great grandmother during her final days. Upon the completion of the lesson Verna bequeathed to her great-granddaughter her well-worn easel, paint spattered smock and painting supplies hoping to share her passion with future generations.
Once relocated in Beaver Creek Verna and Frank felt blessed to live in a beautiful new house built by their (builder) sons Chris and Craig Shafer. Established in the Beaver Creek community Verna once again immersed herself in community service work, organizing people, planning, permitting, arranging funding and overseeing the construction of Sycamore Park and other community projects. She also started a garden club and stayed busy hosting many events in her beautifully decorated house and exquisitely landscaped yards. Verna was instrumental in raising money for many causes. As a reminder, to the family, of Verna’s endless optimism while going through her things we found many sketches and drawings of paintings and projects planned and not yet started. An example would be the partial pallet of concrete pavers, next to the back yard gate, yet to be laid. In her eighties Verna laid hundreds of (heavy) walkway pavers in her yards. It was not uncommon to find an elderly Verna in her back yard, pry bar in hand, rolling a large bolder to a new location simply because she thought it would “look better over there”.
Blessed with a large loving family and in the final weeks of her life Verna was able to stay in her beautiful home tended with loving care by her devoted daughter Vicki Womack (Jim) and son Chris Shafer who live nearby. She also enjoyed multigenerational family care provided by Taylor Engle (great-granddaughter) and her final hours were spent in the loving care of her hospice nurse granddaughter Elizabeth Ruby (Shafer) who gently assisted Verna to the gates of heaven.
Verna was preceded in death by her husband of 60 years Frank Shafer and her daughter in law Jennifer Welk (Chris). She is survived by daughter Vicki Womack (Jim) and sons Chris and Craig Shafer (Debi). Her large extended family includes 14 grandchildren, and a whopping 32 great grandchildren and counting.
Our family is deeply saddened by Verna’s passing, but we find solace in knowing she was well loved by many and is now reunited with her love Frank. Verna was one of a kind and will be remembered fondly by her family and those who knew her best.
There will be a memorial celebration of Verna’s life hosted at her house on February 2, 2019, in Beaver Creek at 3890 Sycamore Lane (turn off Montezuma on Meadow proceed to Sycamore) at 11:30 am. A short service with refreshments to follow.