Life Story / Obituary
A gifted preacher, loving husband, and devoted father, Henry Allen Shafer was a remarkable man. His vibrant personality drew people to him and no one was ever a stranger in his eyes. Henry lived his life to the fullest by giving so much of himself to his family as well as the community he loved. No one could deny that his family was his most precious treasure. There simply wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for each and every one of them. Genuinely compassionate towards others, he modeled a lifetime of serving his Lord and Savior with grace. All who knew and loved him will deeply miss his infinite wisdom, warm smile, and infectious laughter.
The 1940’s were characterized by WWII. By 1947, some of the most significant inventions that would impact lives for many years to come were created including the Transistor and the Mobile Phone. That same year, Henry Allen was welcomed home on February 27th in Detroit, Michigan. One of eight children, his birth brought much joy and happiness to the family home.
Growing up in a large family, Henry was accustomed to the sacrifices it took for his family to thrive. His siblings were especially close and his two older sisters, Dru and Lucy were known to coddle him so much that it nearly prevented him from learning to walk on his own! As a young child, he grew to love watching his favorite cowboy shows, Hopalong Cassidy and The Lone Ranger on television, a pastime that lasted his entire life. He spent countless hours imitating their stunts and western ways. His family moved several times throughout his childhood giving him the opportunity to meet and make new friends playing marbles in the schoolyards at each of the local schools he attended. Street smart during his adolescent years he joined neighborhood gangs in order to survive the difficult times of the era.
Independent from a young age, he’d often travel back and forth between his parent’s home in Detroit and his older sister, Lucy’s home in Wayne on an old bike he had found. The intent was to get some time away from the responsibilities at home but secretly his true agenda was to ride by a young girl’s house that had caught his eye! When Francy heard his squeaky bike coming from afar, she’d run out to the porch to throw him a knowing smile just in time! Little did they both know at the time, that their future together would be one that would last more than fifty years! As a young man, he was known for his dance moves at the local dance halls and clubs in the area. His older sisters were credited for teaching him all his best moves and young ladies were known to line up just for a chance to dance with him! No matter his popularity with the girls, his heart belonged to Francy. Desperate to see her, he once sold his leather jacket in the middle of winter just to secure enough bus fare that could get him within miles of her home. Cold and without a coat, he still managed to walk the last few miles just to be with her! With only a five dollar wedding ring set, they joined in marriage on June 28, 1965, in a modest courthouse with her mother, Veva as their witness. Theirs was a true love story!
Henry was a good provider for Fran and his two beautiful daughters, Kelly Jean and Jacqueline Michelle. A jack-of-all-trades, he worked alongside his father as a carpenter in Florida doing residential siding and more! Later, he was a line worker with Ford Motor Company working midnights and during the day he drove a concrete truck. During these tiresome years, his heart was drawn to a higher power and he pursued being ordained as a minister. By 1971, he contracted double pneumonia that damaged his heart valve and forced him into early retirement. Believed to be Divine Intervention, retirement opened the door to his real passion which was the ministry and his full-time service to God. During his time as Reverend Shafer, he officiated the marriages of his two daughters as well as two of his grandsons. Honored to be an integral part of their ceremonies, he was touched to bless their futures together. He was a gifted minister who connected with countless parishioners over the years. His sermons were known to lift up worshippers in many churches across the country and there are countless stories and testimonies of lives he had touched and lifelong friendships he had made.
As a father, Henry was very hands-on. Well loved by his own children, as well as their friends and their cousins, he had the ability to make them laugh and loved to spend time with them. As the family grew, Henry felt deeply blessed to be a part of each of their lives. Active in their lives, he attended countless concerts, recitals and sporting events - mostly hockey games cheering on his grand kids! His greatest treasure was looking forward to spending time with them and traveling in his motor home on memorable camping trips over the years. There was never a dull moment when Henry was around! He knew how to break the boredom by telling stories or planning their next adventure together.
Henry loved to travel and in the year 2016, he made it to the Redwood Forest which was a dream destination! Marveling at the true miracles of God, he found great solace on that trip, which also included the majestic Yosemite National Park and the giant Sequoias in King’s Canyon. A favorite memory of his was when he and Franny celebrated their 50 year wedding anniversary by renewing their vows. With their abundant family surrounding them, they pledged their love to one another once again! There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as everyone was truly touched to be a witness to their everlasting commitment!
Henry overcame significant challenges in his later years. A cancer survivor, a diabetic, as well as struggling with kidney failure, each time the staff felt that all hope was lost, he’d bounce back! Truly a tremendous testimony to his faith, Henry’s strength and will to survive were remarkable. Favored by many of the hospital staff they loved to stop by his room even if it wasn’t their shift just so they could share in his humor or wisdom to get them through their day. Even his doctor was known to record some of Henry’s jokes just so he wouldn’t forget them when sharing with friends! There is no doubt that Henry lived a life of love and compassion. He wanted nothing more than his family to be happy. May his loved ones be comforted by their warm memories and special moments with him. Each time they join together may they continue to share the stories they treasure. Henry leaves behind a model for each of them to live their lives to their fullest measure by loving unconditionally, laughing continuously, and giving selflessly.
Reverend Henry Allen Shafer, age 71, passed away July 20th, 2018. Loving husband of Francese, father of Kelly (Jeff) Gibson and Jacqueline “Pixie” (Joshua) Yates. Beloved grandfather of Jacob (Sara) Yates, Drake (Sara) Gibson, Dylan Yates, Luke Yates, Cameron Gibson, Jordan Yates, and Riley Gibson. Great-grandfather of Bentley and Willow Yates. Brother of Lucille Martin, Virginia Burqess, Robert and the late Drucilla Lochner, Eddie, Cleo Fischer and Joey. A visitation will be held on Wednesday from 2-8 pm followed by a funeral service Thursday 11 am at Neely-Turowski Funeral Home, 30200 Five Mile Rd, Livonia (Between Middlebelt and Merriman).