In memory: Jack Chaffee

Jack was born July 22, 1929, in the Township of Lucas, Dunn County WI (SW of Menomonie) to Orville and Annie Chaffee. He died peacefully on Dec. 2, 2018. He was the middle child of six siblings. He went to Sunnyside school until 8th grade and then graduated from the Menomonie School of Agriculture. As a young man, he tried several lines of work, including farming, insurance sales, and a stint as a merchant seaman. His spirit of adventure led him to move, along with brother Bill (his “powder man”), to Colorado to try his hand at mineral mining on the Eastern slope in 1957.

He was still mining when he met Virginia (Sothman) at a dance at Mishawaka up Poudre Canyon. They were married on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1957. They raised three children in Fort Collins, where he eventually began working at Colorado State University in the grounds department. He was active in a semi-pro bowling league and was an avid golfer, acquiring several trophies in each sport.

He and Ginny traveled to many bowling tournaments all over the US. An ardent sportsman, he taught his sons to hunt and fish all over Colorado and Wyoming, and coached them in baseball as well. He gave daughter Carol her first guitar and was mildly disappointed when she didn’t become the next Reba. He retired from CSU, as grounds superintendent, in 1988, and moved back to Menomonie for a few years. However, missing both the mountains and the more temperate winter weather, he and Ginny returned to Colorado in 1996, this time to Eckert, on the Western slope where brother Bill was a close neighbor. Jack continued to be active in hunting and fishing, making lots of new friends with whom he could share this favorite pass time. He also spent many years driving tractor and helping a neighboring farmer. He was active in local politics, hosting rallies in his garage, and speaking at City Hall in protest. He loved to garden and kept Ginny supplied in cucumbers for her prize winning “Nonnie pickles.” Jack was famous for his birthday pig roasts, every July, which drew friends and family from all over Colorado and other states.

He had been married to Ginny 53 years when she passed away in 2011. Jack remained active and independent following her passing, enjoying visiting with friends and daughter Carol and two of his great grandchildren. He continued to enjoy gardening and freezing his own produce. His last deer hunting venture at the age of 85 was successful, and he came to mourn his inability to physically hunt and fish in his final few years. Indeed, we’re convinced that his first question at the pearly gates will be “Where is THE BEST fishing hole around here?”

He moved to a memory care unit in Fort Collins, in November 2016, and got to visit often with his sons. He kept track of the Rockies and the Broncos and enjoyed having popcorn and a cold beer with Doug on game days. Bob and Jack spent time reminiscing for a memoir journal, of which he was quite proud. He endeared himself to facility staff with his whacky sense of humor and pretty sharp timing of witty commentary. Jack suffered a sudden massive heart attack on Dec. 2, and died quickly and quietly with sons and daughter-in laws by his side.

He was preceded in death by his wife Virginia, his parents, brothers Sid and James, and sister Vivienne (Joe Long, Bob Dougherty). He leaves behind three children: Bob (Norma Calfee), Carol, and Doug (Suzie Lybarger); as well as seven grandchildren, six great grandchildren; brothers Bill (Mary Jo Oliver), David (Marquita Brandt), and sisters-in-laws Joyce (Oas) and Liz (Stanek).

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Dec. 14, at Allnutt Chapel, 650 West Drake Road, Fort Collins, CO, 80526. For friends and family who knew Jack in his final years in Eckert, Colorado, another memorial service will be held in the Delta, Colorado, area on a date to be announced. Memorial contributions in Jacks honor can be made to the Abraham Connection, a shelter for those in need, at or by mail at The Abraham Connection 480 Silver Street Delta, CO,  PO Box 910 Delta CO 81416.