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Genoa woman dies at hospital

by Merrie Leininger

Frankie Schaffer, former chairman of the Genoa Town Board, died Saturday night at Carson Tahoe Hospital after being burned in a fire set off by the oxygen tank she carried as treatment for emphysema.

Schaffer, 77, was injured when the fire spread from the tank to her clothes as she sat in her doctor’s examining room Jan. 11. She spent time in the UC Davis Burn Center in Sacramento before deciding she wanted to come home a few days before her death.

The Schaffers moved to Genoa from Cincinnati 27 years ago and immediately became involved in the community.

She was chairman of the town board for the two years she was a member during the mid-1970s. She was a member of the board that created the first permanent home of the Genoa town fire department.

“She was always the president or secretary of something,” said her daughter, Brooke Woellner. “She didn’t just sign up for a club, she got involved. She never knew a stranger.”

She was involved with the Women’s International Bowling Conference as a secretary for many years, but Woellner, who also lives in Genoa, said she will most be remembered in the family as a loving caregiver.

“She was very devoted to her family and her family was very devoted to her,” she said. “She was a wonderful mother and care giver.”

In addition to being the mother to Woellner and to Gardnerville resident Sunny Bryant, she was the wife of current Genoa board member Louis Schaffer for 55 years. Their first child, Gary, died in 1991.

Schaffer said he was still coping with the loss.

“It is very difficult to give up somebody I spent 55 years with. Up until she died, I always thought I would go before she did, and I guess I always took her for granted,” he said.

Schaffer fondly remembered the circumstances that brought them together. He was an officer in the Air Force traveling to a special school in Florida from his base, Windover Field on the Nevada/Utah state line. He decided to spend one day in Fort Worth, Texas, because he had never been to that state.

Young Frankie Carpenter was a beautician in the hotel beauty shop where Schaffer decided to get a haircut, and he asked her out that night. After dinner and dancing, they decided to have lunch the next day.

“She asked me what I was doing that afternoon and I, half joking, said ‘Well, I was thinking about marrying you.’ She laughed, then she said, ‘I’ll need to tell my boss.'”

They got married that very afternoon.

“I knew her 28 hours before we got married – and we were married for 55 years, and I never regretted it at all,” Louis Schaffer said.

He said the days since her death have been filled with letters, cards, calls and plants sent from friends.

“A lot of people thought she was a pretty good lady,” Louis Schaffer said. “I’d like people to remember her as honest and patient, but anxious to do things that benefited everyone in the community.”

Frankie Schaffer was also the grandmother to five: Jesse Schaffer of Reno; Jason Woellner of Carson City; Timothy Bryant, Brandon Bryant and Summer Bryant, all of Gardnerville.

She was also the great-grandmother to three: Katie Woellner of Carson City; and Kilie and Kelsie Bryant of Gardnerville.

“She is much loved and will be much missed,” Woellner said.

Terry Taylor of the East Fork Fire and Paramedics districts, said it was the first fatal fire the department has seen in several years.

“It is a real sad thing. We have not come to a determination of what caused the fire, but we’ve eliminated a number of possibilities,” Taylor said.

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