Philip Howard Shafer, 84 a former Ashland attorney who lived life to the fullest and always on his own terms, died Sunday in his home.
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Shafer was born in Cleveland on Sept. 5, 1936 to Dr. Hubert Emerson and Florence Whittaker Shafer and grew up in Geauga County. He played multiple sports at Middlefield High School, winning MVP from the Cleveland Touchdown Club in 1953. Shafer left Middlefield in 1954 to attend Ohio Wesleyan University, where he met his future wife, Susan Daugherty, in the college library. After graduating from OWU, Shafer enrolled in the U.S. Navy’s Officer Candidate School and proudly served on the USS Ranger aircraft carrier from 1959 to 1962. He married Susan in 1962, and they lived briefly in Macon, Ga., while he finished his Naval duties as a recruiter.
Shafer was an avid golfer before taking up sailing in 1972. He first raced at Mohican Sailing Club, where he served as Commodore, and then sailed a variety of boats on the Great Lakes and in the Caribbean with his wife. The couple acknowledged that while they were in many ways opposites, they made the perfect team on a sailboat. Racing or cruising, Shafer’s sailing was always intense. He reluctantly switched to power boating in recent years but still enjoyed time on the lake.
For 84 years, Shafer was in constant motion, always looking for a project, whether it was laying a brick driveway, renovating his historic law building in downtown Ashland, or tinkering with vintage sports cars in his “man cave.” He also took motorcycle rides all over the United States. He loved dancing, especially the polka, and was known to cut a rug with his wife at live music venues or wedding receptions. Shafer, known as “Trouble” to his grandchildren, loved to tease and play practical jokes on family, friends and restaurant servers. After retirement in 2010, Shafer resumed duplicate bridge with gusto and earned Life Master status in 2017. In fact, his last game of online bridge was Sunday evening.
But if he played hard, he worked even harder. Shafer earned his J.D. at Washington & Lee University and moved to Ashland in 1965 to take a job with George Gongwer. He served as Assistant County Prosecutor under Joseph Murray in his early years. His three daughters remember him at a card table every night with his briefcase, law books and yellow legal pads, preparing for the next day. Shafer was an efficient lawyer but one who left no stone unturned for his clients. Lawyers remember getting one sentence letters from him. “He got straight to the point, and he got things done,” said Murray. Shafer handled all types of legal matters, pleased that every day was different. He served on the boards of Dale Roy School, Samaritan Hospital and First National Bank. He was a member of the Ashland County Bar Association and Ohio Bar Association. He also helped to organize the local Big Brothers chapter and supported Ashland youth in many ways.
But his most important contribution was to his family, and he will be deeply missed. In addition to his wife, Susan Daugherty Shafer, surviving family include his sister, Dr. Marcia Custer of Edwardsville, Ill; daughters Jennifer (Craig) Stone of Granville; Lisa of Oakland, Calif., and Molly (Tom) Mack of Bay Village; and six grandchildren (Abigail, Nathan and Jacob Stone, and Daniel, Jonathan and Tommy Mack). His granddaughter Hannah Stone preceded him in death.
In lieu of flowers or a tree, the family suggests donations to the Partner With Youth (YMCA) fund at Ashland County Community Foundation, 300 College Ave. Ashland, Ohio 44805 or by going online to https:// ashlandforgood.org/donate/, or to a charity of the donor's choice. The family will celebrate Shafer’s life during a gathering later this month. Shafer’s body has been donated to The Ohio State University, College of Medicine at his request.
Online condolences may be shared on the funeral home’s website at denbowfh.com.