Alfred E. Schaeffer, age 94 of Menno, S.D., passed away Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020 at the Menno-Olivet Care Center, Menno. A services was held Monday, Aug. 31 at Peace Christian Reformed Church, Menno, with Rev. Bill Vis officiating. Burial was at the Menno Cemetery with Military Graveside Rites by the Rames-Bender American Legion Post #152 and the SDANGHG.
Alfred Emanuel Schaeffer, the fourth child of William’s 10, was born Aug. 20, 1926 to William and Anna (Bender) Schaeffer on the family farm southeast of Menno. He was baptized on Dec. 5, 1926 at Salem Reformed Church by Reverend John Bodenman. He earned his eighth grade education from the Ulmer School in Hutchinson County and was confirmed on June 29, 1941 by Reverend Kaempchen.
Alfred received a greeting card from Uncle Sam for his 18th birthday and did six weeks of basic training at Fort Lewis in Washington. Too short for the infantry, Alfred was assigned to the medical field and completed 11 weeks of basic medical training. After basics, Alfred boarded the Ernie Pile in San Francisco and headed for Yokohama, Japan. While he had received a New Testament Bible earlier, Alfred yearned for a complete Bible. An army chaplain on the ship gave him a Gideon Bible, the same Bible that his kids would later use for confirmation. Alfred served as a medic for 10 months in Yokohama and then returned to the United States. After being honorably discharged as a sergeant on Dec. 2, 1946 from the army, he went to welding school in Troy, Ohio for three months.
Alfred returned to the family farm and met Leona Schempp at a “bunch,” a gathering of local youth. They were married on Dec. 3, 1950, at Johannestal Reformed Church. In addition to raising five children, Alfred and Leona raised corn, soybeans, alfalfa, pigs, cattle, chickens and ducks on their farm northwest of Lesterville.
Life on the farm was busy and full of hard work. While Leona and the kids did the milking, Alfred would break the heifers and work with the hogs. A trendsetter, Alfred was one of the first to have 30-inch rows and he was one of the very first to raise foundation soybean seed. A driven man, Alfred pursued farm excellence and instilled that same commitment to excellence in his children.
While hard work was always emphasized, his children remember him as always being fair, allowing them to leave the farm to attend highly anticipated events. Alfred had a kind heart and his kindness extended to those beyond his farmyard as many neighbors brought broken things for him to weld.
Family was a priority for Alfred and he took his family vacationing in an old pickup camper, usually to the Black Hills and several times with the Calvin Rempfer family. However, the vacations happened only after the kids finished walking the soybean fields.
Alfred had a quiet personality that often hid his witty sense of humor. When one of the grandchildren asked him about his time in Japan, Alfred said in a nostalgic voice that he left part of himself in Japan. Intrigued, the grandchild asked what happened to him in Japan. Alfred replied, “I had my tonsils removed.”
Alfred lived his faith by singing in the choir and serving as church elder, Sunday school superintendent and Sunday school teacher. More than anything, Alfred lived a quiet life that mirrored Jesus Christ, and his wife and family are evidence of his faith.
In 1988 Alfred and Leona moved to Menno to a house built and wired by their sons and son-in-law. Alfred spent retirement driving out to the farm, planting trees for the Hutchinson County Conservation District, enjoying Leona’s food, watching RFD on Saturday nights and adoring his quiver-full of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Their home was the gathering place for holidays and birthdays and their neighbors on Alfalfa Street always knew when the Schaeffers gathered. Alfred relished family time in their home and his family will dearly miss his humble, heart-felt prayers before mealtimes.
Welcoming Alfred into heaven are his parents; siblings: Marvin Schaeffer, Sally Fischer, Arnold Schaeffer, Verina Tiede, Elton Schaeffer and infant brother, Johannes; sisters-in-law: Mary Jane Schaeffer, Ginny Schaeffer, Leila Schaeffer and Lorraine Schempp; brothers-in-law: Elton Tiede, Calvin Rempfer, Wilfred Schempp and Emil Fischer.
Eagerly waiting to be reunited with Alfred are his wife of nearly 70 years, Leona; children: Doug (Linda) Schaeffer, Marcella (Curtis) Cass, Ken (Lori) Schaeffer, Cheryl (Bill) Fischer, Larry (Cheryl) Schaeffer; 16 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren and a host of relatives and friends.