On April 29, 2021, with family at his side, Milton Shaffer, 93, of Danvers and Delray Beach, Florida, formerly of Medford, passed at home after a long illness.
Son of the late Philip and Lillian (Ellin) Shaffer, Milton was born and raised in Chelsea. A proud alum of the Chelsea High School Class of 1945, his connection to the community remained spirited and strong throughout his life. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and served with pride and honor. While stationed in Hawaii, he developed an affinity for the island. He spoke of its beauty often and with his wife, Ruth, was able to fulfill his dream of returning there.
After his military service, Milton joined his father at P. Shaffer & Sons wastepaper business in Chelsea, where his innovation later expanded the business to include the creation and growth of Suffolk Services, Inc. into one of New England’s largest independent solid waste disposal companies. His business savvy was matched by equal parts authenticity and humor. Milton was well-respected by employees, colleagues, customers and professional acquaintances. As an entrepreneur, he was a true pioneer in the recycling field, often consulted by Greater Boston municipalities to help set up their transfer and recycling centers.
Milton and Ruth raised their family in Medford, where they were founding and active members of Temple Shalom, where they developed cherished life-long friendships. Milton built on his early experiences at sea and became an avid boater and leader of the Mystic Valley Yacht Club in Medford. Boating was one of his greatest pleasures in life, particularly the extended cruises he and Ruth took along the East Coast. He never took the benefits or fun of being a recreational captain for granted; as a certified member of the U.S. Power Squadron, he always was willing to aid boaters in trouble.
Milton had an extraordinary work ethic, yet ensured a healthy balance with family and recreation during his later years. He never took himself or anyone else too seriously. He had a great sense of humor and never lost it – even toward his final days. He was gracious. Milton appreciated everything anyone did for him and never failed to thank his nurses and caregivers. He was a man who never judged others by their means or social position; for Milton, one’s character was all that mattered. His respect for character translated to his love of dogs. He was content, fulfilled, lived a meaningful life with joy and gusto, and brought his family and friends along for the ride.
Ruth (Weiner) Shaffer’s beloved husband of 74 years, Milton was the devoted father of Dr. Howard Shaffer (Linda) of Andover, Frederick “Rick” Shaffer (Julianne McKenney) of Reading, and Jayne Gershkowitz (Bruce) of Lambertville, New Jersey. Dear brother of the late Irving Shaffer and the late Burton Shaffer. He was the loving Papa of grandchildren David Shaffer, Paige Shaffer, Neala Gershkowitz, Levi Gershkowitz, Lily Shaffer, and Nathaniel “Nate” Shaffer. He also is survived by adored great-grandchildren Addison, Hadley, and Reid Shaffer, and Jack Shaffer Pinsoneault, and by many beloved nieces and nephews, who will miss their Uncle Miltie.
Private burial was held at Beth Israel Cemetery in Everett. Memorial contributions may be made to Parkinson’s Foundation, 200 SE 1st Street, Ste. 800, Miami, FL 33131, or Family Table/Jewish Family Children’s Service, 1430 Main St., Waltham, MA 02451. Arrangements were handled by Torf Funeral Service, Chelsea. For an online guestbook, visit torffuneralservice.com.