The History of Shaffer Funeral Home

Historic Shaffer Funeral HomeMr. B. T. Racey was the original owner of the business, then named B. T. Racey, Dealer in Furniture and Hardware, Undertaking a Speciality. He was the only funeral director and the first embalmer in Hampshire County.

In 1938, Earl Thrush purchased the business and it became the Thrush Funeral Home and was located on West Main Street across from Endler Avenue.

On July 1, 1955 Mr. and Mrs. Keith Shaffer purchased the business and it became Shaffer Funeral Home. In 1959, Mr. and Mrs. Shaffer purchased the Cornwell mansion from the estate of Mrs. John J. Cornwell.

Keith and Ila Shaffer, with their children Mark and Sarah, moved to the Cornwell Mansion in 1959. Glenn Shingleton (Ila’s first cousin) was an integral part of the business and the family. The people most remember running the business were Keith and Glenn, however, Ila was the one who “manned the fort.” There were no cell phones, no call forwarding, no answering services back then – she was the one who answered the phones, operated the 2-way radio and answered the front and back doors.

Cornwell Mansion Door

In 1976 Sarah became licensed and her parents were finally able to have a life, on occasion, away from the funeral home. In 1986, Keith was diagnosed with lung cancer and died in April of 1987. This event compelled Mark to get his license and move back from Florida with his wife Sandy. Sarah, Ila, Mark and Glenn operated Shaffer’s until 2000, when Mark decided to make a career change and it was decided it was time to sell the business. Fred and Debbie Warnick (from Westernport) bought Shaffer’s and Sarah stayed on as the licensed funeral director. Fred Warnick died, unexpectedly, in 2005 leaving his wife, Sarah and Glenn to run the business. Deb had no interest in running the funeral home, Sarah didn’t want to do it by herself and Glenn was ready to retire. This was the point of major transition, homecoming, and how things came to be the way they are today.

Shaffer Funeral FamilyCarter Wagoner, lifetime friend and a regular guest at the Shaffer’s, from the age of 6, had recently sold his interest in his funeral homes in Falls Church, VA and Annapolis, MD and was restoring old houses and playing with vintage cars. Sarah was aware of this and would call on Carter to come help as needed. He and Sarah decided to buy Shaffer’s back and become the 2007 version of Keith and Glenn, with her mother, Ila, still answering telephones.

The move felt right.

The funeral home was back in loving, family hands and put back on the same track as it was in 1999. Sarah and Carter enjoyed every moment (well almost every moment) of owning and operating Shaffer’s together for 8 years or so until Sarah’s retirement in June of 2015.

It was always intended that Sarah and Carter would retire at the same time – this was not to be. Jamie Kidwell (James Michael) entered the picture soon after Sarah and Carter regained control of Shaffer’s. Jamie was born and raised in the area, graduated from Hampshire High and WVU with bachelors in Sociology and Anthropology. He owned and operated Hampshire Handyworks, preferring building, restoring and fixing to a degree focused career. He was responsible for much of the major renovations at the old Cornwell mansion and soon developed an interest in funeral service. He earned his degree in mortuary science online from the Pittsburgh Institute while operating Hampshire Handyworks, and while being a husband and father to his lovely wife, Alison, and their children.

Jamie shelved his hammer and nails in the spring of 2015 and is the new “other half” of Shaffer’s (Ila STILL has an extension of the main telephone line ringing, 24/7, in her home).

Shaffer Funeral Home has been around for 60+ years now and it is hoped it will be around another 60+ years. While the old Cornwell Mansion is now used primarily as a funeral home many will attest that it has a warmth and inviting appeal not ordinarily found in such a place. Many social community events have been held at Shaffer’s; Hospice events, Rotary functions, unique memorial services just to name a few.

Jeff Green August 25, 2017