By Dr. Steve Kipp
Robert John Gaffer, age 79, of Mankato, MN, died Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at Immanuel St. Joseph’s Hospital in Mankato.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 30 a.m. on Saturday, February 5, 2011, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Mankato, with Fr. John Kunz, officiating. Interment will be at Woodland Hills Memorial Park. Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. Friday at Woodland Hills Funeral Home in Mankato and will continue 1 hour prior to the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Civil Air Patrol Mankato Composite Squadron or donor’s choice.
Robert was born November 16, 1931, in North Mankato, MN, to Samuel Henry Gaffer and Frieda Blanche (Ingram) Gaffer. He attended Mankato schools and graduated in 1948. He was married to Rita Kruse on April 28, 1956, in St. Clair, MN. Bob served in the Navy as 3rd class, Aviation division from 1951-1955. He worked for Mankato Service Company from 1955-1961, was the owner of the Pure Oil gas station from 1961-1972 and the owner of the Union 76 station from 1972-1976. He then opened Gaffer’s Small Engine Shop on Hwy 22 in 1976 and continued working there until his retirement in 1997.
Bob’s interests were many. He loved anything with a motor — lawnmowers, snow blowers, go-carts, motorcycles and cars. — and could fix anything with his knowledge of how things work. He taught all of his children how to fix things and they continue this legacy still. His travels took him to many places especially driving in the blue Ford station wagon with the covered trailer along with the big green bus in later years to see the United States with his family. He loved to go fishing, he raised chickens and trained and raised homing pigeons (winning state 1 time with the pigeons.) Bob loved to collect mechanical toys to have for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to enjoy. Many Mankato parade-goers will remember with a smile his train of kiddie cars he pulled with a lawnmower, grandchildren in tow. He also collected guns. He loved going snowmobiling, racing go-carts, water-skiing and boating. He passed on his love and passion for these things to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Many of these activities were done with all generations of the Gaffer family.
Bob was a member of the Civil Air Patrol earning the rank of Lt. Colonel and was a member of Post 518 American Legion in Mankato.
Bob is survived by his wife, Rita of Mankato, MN; sons and daughters: Linda and Jon Paulson of St. Peter, MN, Tim Gaffer of Mankato, MN, Dan Gaffer of Nicollet, MN, Steve and Kathy Gaffer of New Richmond, WI, John and Jana Gaffer of Hudson, WI, Sue Gaffer and Dana Franzen of Hawkeye, IA, and Christine and Matt Newville of Mankato, MN; grandchildren: Tina and Gabe McClain, Laura Gaffer and Ryan Fitzloff, Nate Gaffer, Adam Gaffer, Justin Gaffer, Ryan and Jenny Skaggs, Chris Skaggs and Emily Smith, Bryan Gaffer, Amanda Gaffer, Tyrrell and Jenni Gaffer, Corey Gaffer, Nerrissa and Jeff Hoag, Natasha Gaffer, Ali Newville, Samantha Newville, Gabbi Newville, Tori Newville and Mitchell Newville; great-grandchildren: Noah Gaffer, Nichole McClain, Caleb McClain, Riley Fitzloff, Oliver Gaffer, Katelyn Skaggs, Tyler Skaggs, Madeline Skaggs, Owen Hoag and Michael Hoag; brothers: Tom and Cib Gaffer, George Gaffer; also an extended family of brother and sister-in laws and numerous nieces and nephews; good friend and brother-in-law, David Kruse.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Frieda Gaffer and father, Samuel Gaffer.