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The Life of Richard Shafer


My father and I completed his autobiography late in 1987. Early in 1988, I arranged for the printing and binding of several dozen copies, many of which we distributed to friends and relatives. We also deposited copies at the public library in Caney and at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas.

I had begun the document in WordPerfect on an Compaq PC, and I completed it in Microsoft Word on a Macintosh. My sister Janet has produced the html documents provided here by converting what we believe are the final Macintosh files, which I had preserved over the years. We have not tried to correct grammatical errors or otherwise improve the text. Janet has added to the html files the photographs that I had included at the ends of the chapters in the 1988 printed document, along some additional family photographs.

I believe that the autobiography gave my father great pleasure during the last ten years of his life. It also helped preserve the personal bond between the two of us, which was strained by his refusal to bless my remarriage in 1989. Although he made efforts to come to terms with this marriage, and although I never gave up the hope that he would do so, he never overcame his feelings about race.

In the last years of his life, my father struggled with severe atherosclerosis. For many years, his Coffeyville doctor persisted in treating the congestion in his lungs rather than the underlying problem with his heart. The atherosclerosis was not diagnosed until treatment was hopeless. He did persuade a Bartlesville specialist to perform an angioplasty, and he remained active to the end, resting often but still attending to his cattle rather than becoming bedridden. On October 12, 1997, he died at home, while watching a football game on television. May he rest in peace.

My step-grandfather Elton Blundell also died of heart disease, on February 11, 1993. My grandmother, Irene F. Blundell died at the age of 94, on March 29, 2000, at the Caney Nursing Home. She had been in good health through her 80s, but she spent her last few years in the Alzheimer's ward in a nursing home in Neodosha, before a final period of ill health, during which she suffered a broken hip and pneumonia.

Glenn Shafer
Newark, New Jersey
December 5, 2002

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