Cover photo for Gary L. Shafer's Obituary
Gary L. Shafer Profile Photo
1943 Gary 2024

Gary L. Shafer

April 2, 1943 — April 15, 2024

Gary L. Shafer, 81, of St. Libory died Monday, April 15th, at Bickford Cottage with his family by his side.

The family will greet friends from 12 to 1pm with a service beginning at 1pm, Friday May 3rd,2024 at Apfel Funeral Home.


Gary Lynn Shafer was born April 2, 1943, in Indio, California.  He spent three years in California, before moving to Lincoln, Nebraska and then to Grand Island in 1956 where he graduated from Grand Island Senior High School in 1961. He married Patricia Jane Vavak on December 6, 1970, in Grand Island where they made their home for many years.  They relocated to St. Libory in 1996.


Gary served in the United States Air Force from June 1962 until his honorable discharge April 1967.  During his service he spent time in Bermuda. After he left the service, Gary worked at New Holland for 30+ years.  After retiring, he worked at Sears part-time for several years. Gary always worked hard from the time he was a boy doing paper routes and working as a carryout at a local grocery store.


In the little free time he had, he could be found watching Elvis Presley, John Wayne & Clint Eastwood movies, listening to Paul Harvey on the radio or tinkering with anything mechanical that he could find in his garage or outside. Being outdoors doing yardwork, fishing, or spending time with kids or grandkids was where he was happiest. He enjoyed family vacations to Niobrara State Park and cheering on the Husker football team.  His family has fond memories of times spent playing checkers, board games, learning poker from Gary, being coached by him in t-ball, cheered on in basketball games, and being taught how to drive.


The most fundamental characteristics that defined Gary were his generosity and caregiving nature.  From when he was growing up, watching over his two younger sisters, to providing for his family consisting of his wife and seven children for his entire adult life.  He never wanted anything for himself.  In his giving spirit, he was a long-term blood donor to the American Red Cross. Until he no longer could, he always made it a priority to give blood on a regular basis.  As such, the family asks that memorials be made to the American Red Cross either in form of a blood donation in Gary’s honor or monetary donation to the organization.


Survivors include four sons, Joel (Marcey) Shafer of St. Paul, NE, Matthew Shafer of St. Libory, Patrick Shafer of Grand Island, and Benjamin Shafer of Grand Island; three daughters, Amy Ryan of Arlington, Kansas, Alison (Jason) Shafer-Beckstrom of Grand Island and Katharine Shafer of Grand Island; nineteen grandchildren; fourteen great-grandchildren; sisters: Carolyn (Jerry) Radcliff of Prescott Valley, Arizona and Jacki (Dave) Marsh of Grand Island; and mother, Velma Shafer of Grand Island, one brother-in-law, S. “Dean” Vavak of Omaha; and one sister-in-law, Ann (Mike) Grimes of Grand Island.


He was preceded in death by his wife, Patricia; father, Wilson Shafer; and father and mother-in-law Stanley & Betty Vavak.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gary L. Shafer, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Friday, May 3, 2024

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)

Apfel Funeral Home Inc - Grand Island

1123 W 2nd St, Grand Island, NE 68801

Family will greet friends an hour prior to the start of the services.

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