July 22, 1923 - January 31, 2017
John William “Bill” Schafer, age 93, of Marion, IL, passed away peacefully at 9:10 p.m. on Tuesday, January 31, 2017. Still living at home, he had only been admitted a few days prior to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital Community Living Center of Marion. Bill was born on Sunday, July 22, 1923, at home in Marion, the son of Joseph William and Lillie Mae (Pike) Schafer. William Schafer, great-great grandfather of John W Schafer “Bill”, migrated to America from Munden, Germany in 1852 at age 21. He sent for his brothers and moved to Creal Springs, Illinois and was naturalized in 1857. He married his third wife Caroline McGowan producing 14 children in a great community and served in the Union Army during the Civil War. And thus, the Schafer clan became engrained into America as teachers, lawyers, law enforcement officers, coal miners, tailors, pastors, real estate brokers, medical professionals, housewives, and most became pillars of their communities. There are of course, one or two “dark horses” as in any family. Bill’s grandfather, John A. Schafer, a blacksmith, performed mainly as a deputy sheriff, Marion Police Chief, constable and Justice of the Peace over a span of 50 years. Bill’s father “Joe” Schafer also was a Deputy Sheriff, serving under four administrations in Williamson County and a Diamond Jubilee Honoree from the American Legion Post 147. It must be in the genes, for Bill also became a lawmaker of sorts, joining the Mounted Division of the County Sheriff’s Department known as the “Sheriff’s Posse” of Oakland County, Michigan and Honored as a Life Time Member of the Marion Elks Lodge No. 800, a VFW Heyde-Pillow Post No.147 of Marion and the Williamson County Farm Bureau member, also of the American Legion, International Union of Operating Engineers, and former member of Marion Chamber of Commerce. Proud of his service in the United States Navy during World War II as a Seabee (still wearing his Seabee’s cap), where he received training in Operating Heavy Equipment during his term (1943-1946). Upon his Honorable Discharge, he was awarded Victory Medal World War II and acknowledged as an Expert Rifleman in the 25th Special Construction Battalion, Machinist’s Military Mate Second Class (MM2c) deployed in America and Asiatic Pacific. As a heavy equipment engineer, he became a member of the Operating Engineers Local 12. He retired from this profession in 1975. Overlapping into the late 50s through 60s is when he joined the Mounted Division of the County Sheriff’s Department known as “Sheriff’s Posse” in Oakland County, Michigan. Entrepreneurial endeavors began as a business owner, along with his wife Freda, of FREDA’S GROCERY & LIQUOR (Rochester, Michigan); moving to Southern California, and then owning and operating, THE GLADSTONE BAR & GRILL (Azusa, California) and CAESAR’S PALACE SUPPER CLUB (Azusa, California). He sold Real Estate in Southern California, divorced and returned to Illinois becoming a Real Estate Broker in Marion, where he met Bea Ardis, also in real estate, and fell madly in love for ever after. Some family and friends attest that Bill was rough, gruff, and opinionated, yet gentle and sensitive… although he’d never admit to the latter. He was honest, loyal, and generous to a fault, at times to his own detriment. Leaving home at 14 years of age, he fought and earned his way in life through hard work and determination, reinventing himself many times over as circumstances required… usually successful in most endeavors. Set in his ways, “My way or the highway” always needing to be in control of his surroundings, indicating to many people that he seemed lonely and insecure but never letting down that strong facade. Not always a very tactful man, but if he cared about you, and you were in need, he would come to your rescue, if at all possible. Bill was a very private man and maybe felt a bit embarrassed about his personal feelings, dreams, and desires, especially if they weren’t compatible with the people he was devoted to and loved. So, his hobbies, interests, and dreams may come as a surprise to many. His daughters, Jody and Billie share: “As a young adult, he used to write poetry, as did several of his ancestors. He secretly dreamt of buying his own island, building homes, stores, schools, and creating a way of living less commercial than the world is now. Slower paced. Back to nature, the way our forefathers lived, only better. Easier. Friendlier. Anything and everything Western, he loved Cowboys. John Wayne. Daily he read western novels, watched western DVDs, television shows, attended or participated in horse shows, loved country music, western style wardrobe, and of course horses which at one time he owned three (3) in Rochester, Michigan. Camping, fishing, water skiing, and boating gave him great pleasure. He owned, and appears to have collected several boats and pontoons. He enjoyed building several retreat cabins, usually near a lake over in Michigan, CA, and Illinois. His final hand built lakeside cabin was in Little Egypt, Illinois. He adored roses and grew them wherever possible. Give him a vehicle in need of repair, something to fix or tinker with, and he’s quite happy… just don’t tell him how to fix it in a different way! He looked forward to shopping for ‘anything.’ Socializing in the local community was an absolute treat for him. “His” towns’ people recognizing him and the footprints he and his family had implanted touched him greatly and made him feel a part of the community since he returned. His daughter Billie quotes, “Daddy and I talked on the phone for hours on end. Usually talking about his businesses, but always reminding me that financial success was found in real estate and not in the stock market. He loved owning properties.” Many local businesses, whether corporate or mom and pop establishments, have shared stories with us stating that they looked forward to his stopping by and chatting, asking them about their families, etc. It was Daddy’s version of “sitting around the pickle barrel” and sharing. Of course, anything VA related he respected and supported for their un-daunting care of our wounded, ailing veterans and families. Without fail, he donated yearly to such unions, organizations, clubs, and special events.” “As long as I can remember,” states Jody, “he has loved suiting up one or two nights a week and going out to dinner and dancing. The Polka was his favorite! Slow dancing came next. At 6’ 4.5”, he became the most gentle, amazingly smooth, social dancer ever. Huge hands and all!” He had a sense of humor, and liked joking and teasing, but just didn’t always know how without offending some… unfortunately.” He is survived by his two daughters, JoEllen Jaress “Jody” of Sherman Oaks, CA, and Billie Lea Cornell and husband Bruce of Palm Desert, CA, his grandson JonCary Jaress and wife Anastasia and great-granddaughter Ondine Zoe Jaress, and another great-grandchild to arrive in March 2017. Other extended family include cousins: Paul Jason “Jay” Schafer, Atty. and wife Michelle (Marion, IL), Jim Schafer and wife Lynn (Florida), Larry Schafer, wife Laura and sister Vicky Schafer (Pittsburg, Illinois), John Paul “Bud” Murrow (Marion, IL) and many other family and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Ida Louise Eastburn; former wife Freda Ellen Jones Schafer and mother of his children; baby girl and baby boy fraternal twins; his granddaughter Michele Lea Jaress, and long time companion, Bea Ardis. The Williamson County Historical Society Museum & Genealogy Library, has several books containing stories that include, William Schafer, John A Schafer, and Joe Schafer, also on display are Joe’s law enforcement uniform, gun and badge, as well as photos and the Civil War rifle used by William Schafer, Bill’s great-great grandfather. All donated by Bill and his daughters over the years. His daughters, Jody and Billie, wish to extend their heartfelt gratitude and sincere appreciation to the VA Hospital Marion, their medical specialists, administrators, to the doctors and nurses working in the VA Wound Clinic, and the VA CLC Hospice, and for offering such needed programs as: Veterans Directed Home Care (VDHC) with their very attentive, patient and caring coordinators, Primary In Home Health Care, and certainly a “Thank You” to the drivers who transported our dad when necessary. Two names that must be mentioned are Joey Clark and his wife Roberta of Marion. They were our dad’s never-ending rock and friends over several decades. And to the private caregivers that were needed around the clock, “You are more than amazing… and we love you”. To you all, were it possible, a bag of chocolates from John W. Schafer your veteran. Arrangements for John William “Bill” Schafer have been entrusted to Wilson-McReynolds Funeral Home, 900 N. Court St., Marion, IL. Entombment with military honors will be accorded at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 12, 2017, in Rose Hill Cemetery of Marion, by members of Heyde-Pillow V.F.W. Post No. 1301 and American Legion Post No. 147 both of Marion and members of the United States Navy Funeral Honors Burial Detail. Those wishing to attend the committal service should gather at the cemetery prior to 2:00 p.m. A memorial service will be held at a later date during the summer of 2017. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to “Williamson County Historical Society Museum & Genealogy Library” in memory of John W. “Bill” Schafer and the Schafer family, with funds going to preserve local history. Memorial envelopes will be available at the funeral home. If you prefer, you may mail your offering in care of Wilson-McReynolds Funeral Home, 900 N. Court Street, Marion, IL 62959. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to “Williamson County Historical Society Museum & Genealogy Library” in memory of John W. “Bill” Schafer and the Schafer family, with funds going to preserve local history. Memorial envelopes will be available at the funeral home. If you prefer, you may mail your offering in care of Wilson-McReynolds Funeral Home, 900 N. Court Street, Marion, IL 62959. For additional information please contact the funeral home by calling 618-993-2131.
John William “Bill” Schafer, age 93, of Marion, IL, passed away peacefully at 9:10 p.m. on Tuesday, January 31, 2017. Still living at home, he had only been admitted a few days prior to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital... View Obituary & Service Information
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