Robert H. Gaffner, age 82, of Greenville, passed away Sunday, April 12, at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield, MO. Funeral services for 82 year-old Robert H. Gaffner will be Saturday, April 18, at 2:00 p.m., in the First Presbyterian Church in Greenville. Burial will be in Mt. Auburn Cemetery with full military honors. Friends may call Saturday, from 1:00 p.m. until service time at the church. Memorials are suggested to the First Presbyterian Church, Greenville Regional Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital, or Bond County Hospice. The Donnell-Wiegand Funeral Home in Greenville is in charge of arrangements.
Bob was born November 3, 1932 in Greenville, the son of Harold L. and Marguerite E. B. (Schaufelberger) Gaffner. He married Elizabeth Anne Erickson of Glens Falls, New York, on February 11, 1956 in Greenville at the Gaffner home by Rev. Robert Berger. She preceded Bob in death on November 12, 2009. Also preceding Bob in death were his parents, brother Gerald L. Gaffner and sister Mildred (Gaffner) Ingram.
Surviving Bob are his children: daughter Elizabeth A. (Robert) Baker of Downers Grove, Illinois and their children Blaine Christopher and Brent Michael; son Brian H. (Tracy) Gaffner of Amarillo, Texas and their children Jonathan Powell, Ruth Elizabeth, Lydia Rachel and David Jackson. Also surviving is a sister Shirley (Jack) Roadman of Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
Mr. Gaffner served in the United States Air Force from 1951-1954. He was assigned to the Western Air Defense Force Headquarters in San Francisco, California. During his tenure at WADF, he was responsible for the personnel staffing of the top secret USAF project “Pine Tree.” Pine Tree was a network of early warning radar sites along the United States and Canadian borders preceding the later Distance Early Warning System (DEW LINE) of the North American Air Defense System (NORAD). In 1952, he was assigned to Pilot Training Class 52D, Hondo AFB, Hondo, Texas.
Bob graduated from Greenville High School in 1950 and did his undergraduate studies at Greenville College and graduate studies at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. In 195 he joined DeMoulin Brothers and Company where he served in several positions before becoming National Sales Director. In 1965 he joined Southwestern Electric Cooperative, Greenville, as Director of Community and Member Relations.
In 1968, he joined the St. Louis Community College System. During his community college career he held several Administrative Office positions including Coordinator of Community Relations, Vice-Chancellor of Governmental and Legislative Relations, Executive Assistant to the Board of Trustees, Executive Assistant to the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor and Executive Director of the College Foundation a position from which he retired in 1991.
Highlighting his community college career was his successful planning and implementation of all the college’s tax referendums which today generate more than $72 million annually. In 1973, serving as Vice-President of the Missouri Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC), He co-authored the statewide funding formulae for the state-wide Missouri Community College System which provided more than $150 million annually until being replaced in 1993.
During his community college career, he was the recipient of several national awards including the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) highest award the silver anvil, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ highest award an Emmy, National Society of Radio Broadcasters (NSRB) highest award MARCONI, American Alumni Council (AAC), Distinguished Service Award and from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Distinguished Service Award for Contributions to Higher Education.
Locally, he was the recipient from the Greater St. Louis Advertising Council Award for an outstanding local marketing and student recruitment campaign, Greenville College, Outstanding Educator Award, St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees, Outstanding Services Awards for planning and initiating a state-wide legislative plan and Outstanding Service Award for planning and implementing a national Chancellor search.
Upon retirement from the St. Louis Community College System Bob joined the U.S. Department for the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) where he served in a variety of assignments before retiring in 2006 as a Senior Tax Specialist.
Upon his retirement from the IRS, Bob was named Executive Director of the Gateway EITC Community Coalition (GECC, St. Louis, Missouri an organization in which he was instrumental in forming during his IRS tenure. With the death of his wife Anne November 12, 2009, Bob stepped down as Executive Director and assisted GECC with its fund development and grant writing.
Bob served two terms on the Greenville Planning Commission and three consecutive terms on the Greenville City Council. He was also a member of the Greenville Fire Department for 12 years. He was a member of the Greenville Jaycees and served as President in 1955 and was elected Illinois state-wide Vice-President in 1956. In 1975 he was first elected as a Kaskaskia College Trustee, a position he held for 40 years before his death. During his Kaskaskia board tenure, Bob held officer positions of secretary, Vice-Chairman and Chairman. Statewide, he also served as Secretary, Treasurer, Vice-President and President of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA). In 1976, Bob served as the Deputy National Chairman for the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREP).
In 1986, Bob was the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the Illinois 21st Congressional District. He narrowly lost to long-time Congressman Melvin Price; Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, by 943 votes the closest Congressional race in the United States. With the untimely death of Congressman Price in 1988, Bob was again the Republican candidate pitted against St. Clair County Executive Director Jerry Costello in a Special August Congressional Election. He was defeated by 1,500 votes by now current Congressman Costello.
Bob was a member of the 1st Presbyterian Church of Greenville having server as Deacon and Elder. He was a member of the Greater St. Louis Men’s Prayer Group Association and served as Chairman of the first St. Louis Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in 1970 which has now become an annual event attracting more than 25,00 participants annually.
Donnell-Wiegand Funeral Home
203 W Oak St
Greenville, IL 62246