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The Life of Richard Shafer
©1988 Glenn Shafer


I retired from the Caney Post Office in early 1982, just as I was turning 60. I was glad to retire. I had plenty to do on the farm.

I am enjoying my retirement. We still garden, hay, and look after the cattle. A lot of the work that I used to do with one kid or another I now do with Anna again. We do things together around the house, and we go shopping together in Coffeyville every Friday. We enjoy our church friends, our family, and the grandchildren.

My story is not over. I still have things to do. My projects are not as pressing now, though. Sometimes I set out to go down to the barn and end up in the garden. I can always get down to the barn tomorrow.


The rules for retirement from the post office were complicated. I had worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 26 years and 4 months. I was entitled to add my army time to that, which brought it up to 29 years and 6 months. That still wasn't enough for a 30 year retirement, but I was entitled to retire early because I was 60. Then I was entitled to add a year of unused sick leave. So they figured my retirement on the basis of 30 years and 6 months of service.

Anna and I had quite a bit of money in the bank by that time, and we knew we would soon be eligible for social security. We could always sell off a little land if we needed to. I knew I wouldn't have quite as much money to spend as soon as I retired, but I figured we could make it.


There have been many changes in our family. We now have three grandsons. Glenn and Terry had Ricky in 1978 and Dennis in 1981. Roy and Ruth had Garold in 1980.

Glenn still teaches at Lawrence, and we see him and his children every few months. He and Terry were divorced in 1985, after fifteen years of marriage. Fortunately, their children seem to be adjusting well. Delores still works as a clinical psychologist in California. Janet recently got married, to a fellow from Indiana named Johnny Dull. She has quit her job in the Forest Service and moved to North Carolina to go back to school to learn to make furniture.

We see Roy more than the other kids, because he lives nearby. He and Ruth and Garold live on five acres north of Caney, about eleven miles from here. Roy always comes down when I need help on something. Garold goes to school in Caney, and the whole family is active in our church. I am especially proud of Roy's work in the church. He is an elder, and he has done some fine work on the education committee. He has always been very articulate.

Anna's parents are still on their farm, and we still see them often, but Anna's brother Garold died unexpectedly of heart failure on February 22, 1978. Except for Clint, who died in an accident as a child, Garold and Eleanor's children have all been quite successful. Eleanor has remarried and lives down by Bartlesville. Anna's other brother, Dick, lives with his wife Liz on a farm the other side of Anna's folks. Their two children have just graduated from high school.

My brother-in-law Francis died on April 16, 1984. Helen still lives in Corpus Christi, but she comes up to visit often. Sharon and Bill still live in Caney. Their daughter Kristi is married and has two daughters of her own. Their son Steve died in an accident at the age of 15, on April 16, 1976.

Most of my aunts and uncles are gone now. The only ones left on my father's side are Uncle George and Aunt Lillian. On my mother's side, there is just Aunt Vivian. We get a chance to visit with them from time to time. We also still visit back and forth with George and Marie Beck. We occasionally see Olive McClure, Leo's widow. She lives up at Independence.


In the late '60s, my interest in ham radio sort of played out, but I did keep my license up. You have to be on the air for three hours during the three months before your license expires in order to renew it every five years, and I did that, but other than that, I didn't do much more than listen a little now and then. I finally did get back into it towards the time when I retired. M.L. retired about a year after I did, and I got him interested again. Bud Bridenstine also moved back to town about that time, and I got him interested, too. We all have new rigs now. So we sort of have a group again. There isn't a club in Caney, but those guys are active in a club in Coffeyville.

In the late '70s, I built a greenhouse beside the washhouse, just southeast of the house. It isn't real tight, but it works well for starting plants and growing tomatoes in the spring. I enjoy working in it.

There is always work to do on the house or on some other building around the farm. In the spring of 1985, I finally tore out the section between the wooden barn and the tin barn, so they wouldn't pull each other down. The wooden barn stayed put after that, but the tin barn is sagging to the north again. At least I know now which one was pulling the other down.


In 1982, we finally went out to visit Delores in California. It was a wonderful trip. We flew to San Francisco from Tulsa, and I talked for months afterwards just about the trip in that jet. Anna and I had never been in a jet before. Aside from a helicopter ride in Branson, Missouri, a few years before, I had not been in an airplane since I had been evacuated from the front in France in 1944.

Delores gave us a tour of San Francisco, and then she went with us on a smaller plane to San Luis Obispo, about half way down the coast to Los Angeles. It was about a 15 minute trip from there to her home in Morro Bay, on the ocean. Anna and I had the time of our lives playing in that ocean.

In 1983, we drove up to visit Janet in Minnesota, where she was working for the Forest Service. We saw the Canadad Iron Mines there in Minnesota, and we drove about 90 miles up into Canada. On the way back, we drove through North and South Dakota to the Rapids City area, where we saw Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, and the South Dakota badlands. Then we drove back home to Kansas through the western Sand Hills of Nebraska. We stopped to see the Schwanebecks again at Creston, Nebraska. Then we stopped to see Glenn and his family at Lawrence before finally driving home.

In 1985 we drove to the Carlsbad Caverns. We went through the corner of Colorado on our way there, and we saw the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City on our way back.


I have always considered myself a Republican. I believe that everybody has to get out and grind their own ax. On the other hand, I do believe in benevolence. If somebody is not really willing to work, they shouldn't have much, but we shouldn't let them starve. I guess I am middle of the road in politics.

I liked Truman, because he got the soldiers home early. I think that's what reelected him in 1948.

I didn't vote in the '50s. There was no way I was going to vote for Eisenhower. A military man has no business in politics. On the other hand, I didn't particularly want to vote for Stevenson. I wasn't really very interested in politics then.

I did vote for Johnson. I was for his Great Society programs, and Goldwater talked bully too much.

I voted for Reagan in 1980. Carter was letting all the little countries in the world push us around too much. I believe I made a mistake, though. Reagan has done nothing but spend on the military and get us into debt. I didn't vote for him in 1984.

I suppose my politics runs over into my religion on the question of benevolence. Benevolence is really a religious matter, but paying taxes is the only way 60% of our citizens are ever going to help their fellow man.

I believe in religion. When you have a family, you are heading your kids for trouble if you don't push God and belief in Christ. When you are past that stage, there is still a lot of consolation in thinking godly thoughts.

I don't think God interferes in a man's life, though. I never looked to God for personal help. There are some people in church who say "We better pray about it" whenever we have a problem. I suppose that makes sense if it means we should think about it, but I don't think we can ask God for answers to our problems. On the other hand, I believe the Holy Spirit controls our decisions through our knowledge of the Bible and our understanding of the words.

I don't think there is a right and wrong about everything. I remember Glenn saying to me once, while he was milking his cows, "Everything is either morally right or morally wrong." He was real concerned about what he should have done on an FFA trip when some of his friends tried to walk out on a restaurant without paying their bill. But some things are neither morally right nor morally wrong. There isn't a right and wrong, for example, when it comes to deciding whether you are going to marry a particular woman. Some things you just have to do your own way.

I lot of things that I once believed I have changed my mind about over the years. Of course, the whole country has changed a lot in the last forty years. Television has had a big impact on the way we think. We think differently than we used to about race, for example.


Looking back at the last forty years of my life, the main thing I see is how important Anna has been in everything I did. Whatever we have accomplished has been a team effort. We have our disagreements, but somehow we have always worked things out.

Anna was a western Kansas gal. She has shown her love for me by accepting most of my ideals and goals. I have been lucky to have her as my wife.

The Offspring of Harry and Tempa Shafer
      Married on September 18, 1919
Harry Albert Shafer. Born 10-29-1892. Died 2-20-52.
Tempa Buelah Esson. Born 11-3-1899. Died 4-21-74.

Helen Louise. Born 9-21-20.
     Married Francis Marion Todd on 9-14-39. He died 4-16-84.
      Sharon Louise. Born 8-5-40.
           Married William L. Wiggins on 11-7-59.
           Steven Leon. Born 3-23-61. Died 4-16-76.
           Kristi Louise. Born 3-3-64.
                 Married Richard L. Hall on 5-21-82.
                 Tarrah Louise. Born 8-3-83.
                Hailey Lynn. Born 11-30-86.
      Nancy Kay. Born 9-26-41.
           Married Henry C. Garrett, Jr. on 6-6-59.
           Tod Michael. Born 1-23-61.
           Mark Allen. Born 11-15-62.
           Glen Wayne. Born 2-27-64.
      Ronald Marion (Tex). Born 6-15-52.
           Married Claire in 1968, Darlene in 1984, Debbie in 1987.

Richard Glenn (Dick). Born 1-7-22.
      Married Anna Loucile Mayfield on 2-17-46.
      Glenn Ray. Born 11-21-46.
           Married Teresa Ann Shistar on 8-25-70. Divorced on 11-5-85.
           Richard Glenn (Ricky). Born 3-3-78.
           Dennis Steven. Born 4-28-81.
      Delores Ann (Dee). Born 2-8-48.
           Married George Kugle in 1967. Divorced.
      Harry Dean. Born 9-16-49. Died 9-16-49.
      Roy Thomas. Born 11-1-55.
           Married Ruth Ann Gulick on 6-11-77.
           Garold Thomas. Born 6-14-80.
      Janet Sue. Born 8-17-58.
           Married Johnny Dull on 7-20-87.

The Offspring of Bert and Irene Mayfield
      Married on July 13, 1924
Bert Ray Mayfield. Born 3-8-01. Died 7-6-36.
Irene Florence Beagley. Born 10-31-05.
      Married Elton Ray Blundell on 9-28-37.

Anna Loucile. Born 2-10-25.
      Married Richard Glenn Shafer on 2-17-46.
      See the preceding page for children and grandchildren.

Garold Bert. Born 9-2-29. Died 2-22-78.
      Married Eleanor Grace Adams on 7-13-50.
      Gaylene Sue. Born 3-26-52.
      Garold Mark. Born 10-12-53.
           Married Laurie Kapps on 1-4-75. Divorced.
           Leah Christine. Born 3-23-77.
           Lindsay. Born 9-7-79.
      Clint Guinn. Born 11-18-54. Died 10-30-68.
      Garner Jay. Born 10-9-57.
           Married Gloria Teaque on 5-16-86.
      Gina Sue. Born 3-21-65.
           Married Scott Quintin Thomison on 9-2-83.
           Bradley Scott. Born 9-2-85.
           Valerie Kay. Born 9-10-87.
      Elton Greg. Born 6-6-66.
          Married Gayle Lynn Howard on 12-27-86.

Dick Wilford. Born 7-6-27.
      Married Elizabeth Eva Turner on 2-14-64.
      Eva Irene. Born 6-25-65.
      Glenn Ray. Born 2-29-68. Died 2-29-68.
      Dick Ray. Born 7-16-69.
      Perry Lee. Born 6-27-71. Died 6-30-71.


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