Eugene H. "Gene" Shaffer Sr., a World War II veteran, Boy Scout leader and retired crane operator, died Friday of leukemia at his home in Millsboro, Del.
The longtime Ellicott City resident was 85.
Born in Baltimore in a neighborhood near Edmondson Avenue, he was the son of a homemaker and a crane operator who helped build the Bay Bridge. His son would work at the same trade for 44 years. Mr. Shaffer's mother died when he was 5 and many extended family members helped his father raise him.
He dropped out of school at 17 to join the Navy in 1944. After the war, he joined and remained active in VFW Post 7472, the American Legion and the Destroyer Escort Sailors Association.
He first became interested in the Boy Scouts as a child and he would ultimately dedicate 65 years to Scouting, volunteering for many years after his own son became an Eagle Scout, the organization's highest honor.
"He had a lifelong, huge interest in Scouts," said Dennis Pagel, his son-in-law. "There is no one in local Scouting who does not know his name. He was instrumental in steering many Scouts toward their Eagle badges. He became known to young and old as 'that Boy Scout man.' "
He converted to Roman Catholicism when he married Marjorie Rose Walterhoefer 62 years ago, and became a member of the Knights of Columbus at his parish. He also was recognized for his devotion with several religious service awards.
He was known for inspiring others with his tales of good deeds, many of them culled from Boy Scout feats that had occurred across the country, Mr. Pagel said. Mr. Shaffer was credited with instituting a Memorial Day tradition at Baltimore National Cemetery that had Scouts line the graves of military veterans with American flags every year. He also helped form and remained a member of the Juvenile Aid Volunteer Association for Howard County and Carroll County.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 4795 Ilchester Road.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his son, Eugene Shaffer Jr. of Annapolis; a daughter, Christine Pagel of Long Neck, Del.; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
The headline of an earlier version of this article gave the wrong first name for Eugene H. Shaffer Sr. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun