SHAFFNER, Claire Phillips Russell, 89, of Richmond, passed away peacefully on October 20, 2021, surrounded by family. She was preceded in death by her son, Jeffrey Phillips Cheney. Claire was born on September 19, 1932, to the late Charles Phillips Russell and Caro Mae Green Russell. Both of her parents were creatives and writers, traits passed on to Claire during her childhood in Chapel Hill, where her father was a Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of North Carolina. Her maternal uncle was the late Paul Green, southern playwright and author of The Lost Colony.
Claire leaves to cherish her memory her devoted children, Caroline Elizabeth Cheney (Paul), Robert Walton Cheney (Becky), Elinor Cheney Halpin (Jay), Walker Shaffner Fonville (Mahood) and Amalie Shaffner Derdeyn (Jason). She will be greatly missed by her treasured grandchildren, Warren (Jordan) and Caroline Cheney, Henry Cheney, James and Claire Halpin, Lucy, Pace, Avery and Josie Fonville and Ned and Lia Derdeyn. She is also survived by her loving sister, Avery Battle Russell and her husband, Captain Alfred S. McLaren.
Claire was an exceptional person both in her work and personal life. She graduated from the University of North Carolina and began her broadcasting career at the public radio station run by the University, WUNC. She worked in copywriting and sales in the early years at radio stations in Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. and Charleston, S.C. before arriving in Richmond in 1983. She was General Manager of WRXL/WRNL for 12 years, creating a number one Classic Rock station while also transforming WRXL into a public service leader. Subsequently, Claire was a successful residential real estate agent for 20 years while also owning her marketing company, Claire Shaffner Marketing. She dedicated her charity work to Goodwill Industries, serving on the board since 1987, as Chair of the Board from 1991-1993 and she was granted Board Member Emeritus in March of 2020.
Claire was an inspiration and role model to all who knew her. Her charming home was always open for cheerful visits, good wine and fabulous cheese boards. Lucky friends enjoyed warm fires in the winter and her marvelous garden in the spring. She was a great conversationalist and was always wise and detailed in her advice. She was happiest at her beach, Isle of Palms, S.C., enjoying long walks with her children and grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 30, at 2 p.m. at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 6000 Grove Avenue. Masks are required for the service.
The family would like to extend their gratitude to the entire staff at Westminster Canterbury Richmond for their compassionate care. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Claire's memory to the Garden of the Holy Spirit at St. Stephen's, Goodwill Industries
or the Salvation Army.
Published by Richmond Times-Dispatch on Oct. 24, 2021.