“Dad, home will always be wherever you are.” John A. Schafer died peacefully at his daughter Candace’s residence in Mandan on July 1, 2023, with his family members at his side.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, July 7, 2023, at St. Lawrence Catholic Church, Flasher, ND with Rev. Dennis Schafer as celebrant. Burial will be at 2:00 PM on Friday at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery.
Visitation will be held Thursday, July 6, 2023, from 5:00-7:00 PM at Weigel Funeral Home, Mandan, with a Rosary/Parish Vigil at 7:00 PM. Visitation will continue at the church one hour prior to the service on Friday.
John was born September 23, 1929, in Flasher, ND. He was the 6th child of eleven to Michael J. and Barbara (Fix) Schafer. He attended Otter Creek Grade School, the Assumption Abbey, and graduated from Flasher High School in 1948.
John enlisted in the US Army in August of 1948. After one year of active military training, he returned to Flasher to fulfill his 6-year active reserve commitment. He was recalled to active duty in October 1950 following the invasion of South Korea. John was wounded three times between May and June 1951. He was awarded the Bronze Star for valor, the Purple Heart with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Combat Infantry Badge, and other Battlefield Citations. His last hit in June 1951, the "Million Dollar Wound,” sent him home.
John became engaged to Ardys LaRue Zempel before he left for Korea. They were married in Flasher on January 12, 1952, while he was home on convalescent leave. After they were married, Ardys traveled with him to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to continue his recovery. Following his release from the hospital in the Spring of 1952, they moved back to Flasher to farm and ranch.
In June 1954, John received a federal appointment as a rural mail carrier. He retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2002 with over fifty years of government service. In addition to delivering mail six days a week, he was the union representative for all rural carriers in ND for 32 years. He held numerous positions both statewide and nationally with the Rural Letter Carriers Association.
He was a Life Member of the American Legion and was actively involved at local, state, and national levels. He served as ND Department Commander in 1976-1977, as a national lobbyist for veterans’ affairs in our nation’s capital for over twenty years, and as National Alternate Executive Committeeman from 2004-2006.
John was active in public and civic service in Flasher and Morton County his entire life. As a devout Catholic, he was fundamental in forming the local Knights of Columbus chapter and holds the distinction of being the 1st Grand Knight. He was President of the school board for 12 years, served as the Municipal Judge for over 50 years, was a member of the City Commission, a member of the Civil Defense team, a member of the Draft Board, and served for over 50 years on the Morton County Planning and Zoning Commission.
After he graduated from high school, his dad helped him buy three cows and he put in a flax crop. When the crop got hailed out, he decided to join the Army but he never lost his love for ranching. One of his fondest memories was branding and vaccinating the calves every Memorial Day weekend when all of his kids and grandkids were on hand to help. He sold his last cows on March 8, 2008, often proclaiming he was in the cattle business exactly 60 years.
John was a loving and caring husband to Ardys throughout their 53 years of marriage and during her 28-year illness. He was a wonderful father and is survived by his seven children: J. Scott (Shirlene) Schafer; Deborah Faye Riehl; Candace Michele Schafer; Diane LaRue (Don) Cullum; Brady Joseph John (Maureen) Schafer; Melanie Joy (Robert) Tanner; Kirsten Kay Baesler; a proud grandfather to his 15 grandsons, and one granddaughter: Michael (Angela), Damien (Paige), Kenny (Becca), Dominic (Brianne) Riehl; Jay (Caitlin), John Schafer; Eddie, Tony (Danielle) Cullum; Hunter (Jen), Emmy, Leo Schafer; Danny (Julie), Chris Gavin, Rachel (Jonathan) Wood, Meredith Tanner; Lee, Chancellor, Mitchel (Kayla) Baesler; and 14 great-grandchildren; Declan, Rowan, Jasper Schafer; Gertrude, Gunnar, Aidan, KaYoon, Silas Riehl; Elliot, Lennox LaRue Cullum; Asher, Xavier Schafer; Sophie, Bindi Baesler. He is also survived by his sisters Mary Frank, Margie Schweitzer, Jeanie (Matt) Kraft, brother Jim (Marie) Schafer, brothers- and sister-in-law, Buck, Aaron (Sharon) Zempel, and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife Ardys (2005); parents Michael J. and Barbara Schafer; mother and father-in-law Fred and Judy Zempel; brothers and sisters-in-law Leo (KIA WWII), Otto (Iona), Pete (Vivian), Richard (Gavis), Adam (Helen) Schafer; sister Sr. Charlene (Caroline); sisters-in-law Clara Schafer, Bonnie Zempel, Ramona Roper; brothers-in-law Tony Frank and Andy Schweitzer.
Honoring Dad’s wishes, in lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the ND Veterans Cemetery in memory of Dad.
John’s family wishes to extend special thanks to his VA Home Based Primary Care medical team, CHI Hospice team, and his wonderful care givers for their loving care.