Waterford - Wayne Gordon Shaffer, retired president of The Vitro Laboratories in Silver Spring, Md., and executive vice president of Automation Industries and of The Penn Central Corporation, died peacefully Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, in Niantic. He was 93 and retained his mental acuity, precision, and sense of humor until the end.
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Wayne was born June 18, 1919, in Chicago, Ill., to Lester Shaffer and Gertrude (Mellen) Shaffer. He grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and St. Paul, Minn. He graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Engineering with a B.M.E. degree, and began a career in engineering with the Northwestern Bell Telephone Company in Minneapolis, Minn. prior to World War II. During the war years, he worked in critical research and development for Columbia University at the Underwater Sound Laboratory in New London.
On June 25, 1942, Wayne married his school sweetheart, Jane Helen Chrischilles, in Minneapolis, Minn. Jane joined Wayne in Connecticut where they lived until 1948. In 1948, Wayne accepted a position with The Kellex Corporation in Silver Spring, Md., which became The Vitro Laboratories. Wayne rose to the position of president of the Vitro Laboratories overseeing over 6000 employees. He remained with the company as it became a part of Automation Industries and finally a part of The Penn Central Corporation. Wayne retired in 1984, but served as a consultant to the company for a number of years maintaining an office in New London.
Dr. Shaffer was influential in the growth of the Capitol Institute of Technology (now Capitol College) in Laurel, Md. Dr. Shaffer served on the board of directors of the college and he endowed a scholarship fund that bears his name. The institution awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1980.
Wayne maintained a lifelong interest in amateur radio and was an active HAM until the day he died; he was on the air on the morning of his death. W3QAN (SK) was a life member of the QCWA, QCWA Nutmeg Chapter 149, and life member of the ARRL. Wayne was the epitome of an old time ham: a true gentleman.
Wayne is preceded in death by his parents; infant sister, Ruth Margaret; and brother, James Lester.
He is survived by Jane, his wife of 70 years; sons and spouses, Thomas and Janice of Minnesota, Jonathan and Karen of North Carolina, Christopher and Elizabeth of Maryland, and Andrew and Jennifer of Maryland; 10 grandchildren, Peter (Kerri), Kaija, Eric, Alison (Lukas Scott), Stephen, Christine, Alexander, Andrew, George, and Joshua; four great-grandchildren, Miles, Peyton, Tess, and Cecielia Jane. He is also survived by his brother, George William Shaffer in Iowa City, Iowa; cousins, and nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at The Pequot Chapel on Montauk Avenue in New London, with a reception following.
Memorials are requested to be sent to Capitol College, 11301 Springfield Road, Laurel, MD 20708, for the Vitro/Wayne Shaffer Scholarship Fund.
Published in The Day on Oct. 25, 2012