Posted on

Remembrance Day dampened by rain, death of Shaffer 2 days later

Remembrance Day dampened by rain, death  of Shaffer 2 days later
Remembrance Day dampened by rain, death  of Shaffer 2 days later
While standing in front of the general store he and his wife, Faye, renovated, New Amsterdam 'mayor' Brent Shaffer thanks festival-goers for coming to the eighth-annual Remembrance Day parade Saturday morning. Shaffer died two days later.

New Amsterdam ‘mayor’ and town council president Brent Shaffer loved his small town, population about 20, he said Saturday during the eighth annual ‘ and Shaffer’s last ‘ Remembrance Day celebration. He loved the general store he and his wife, Faye, renovated with their own hands and opened in 2000.
Shaffer died Monday morning at his home. He was 65.
A former inspector at the Ford truck plant in Louisville, Shaffer didn’t miss a single detail in restoring the old building that once housed the International Order of Odd Fellow. He went out and located 48 panes of old glass to repair the upstairs windows.
‘Brent and Faye rejuvenated the general store in New Amsterdam, which made it a place of interest in Harrison County. That store is a throwback in time, sort of like going back in history 100 years,’ said Carl (Buck) Mathes, the emcee for Remembrance Day.
Another of Shaffer’s loves and crowning achievements was the festival and its parade he and Faye started in 2001.
About 600 people attended the first Remembrance Day. The next year the number grew to 2,000, and it’s held steady or grown every year since.
Despite cool temperatures and occasional precipitation Saturday, countless people strolled the streets of the lazy town, purchasing antiques, jewelry, crafts and flea market items. One booth looked to drum up support for Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama. Diet plans were thrown out the window with several booths offering everything from pork chop sandwiches to hamburgers to nachos.
How the small festival, held the third Saturday in April, remains successful isn’t a mystery. It’s people like the Shaffers and other townsfolk who take just as much pride in their shindig as Louisville does the Kentucky Derby.
Outside of a bus trip to the nearby, 700-acre Mulzer’s Quarry, there aren’t any rides for children. There aren’t any carnies, either. Remembrance Day is, as Mathes puts it, ‘just a bunch of good people getting together.’
The jovial Brent Shaffer was everywhere Saturday. He started off the 49-entry parade with a pair of ceremonial gunshots in front of his general store. On cue, as he fired the second round into a dark, cloudy sky, a slow drizzle began to fall.
‘Buck, I think I shot a hole in the clouds,’ Shaffer said to Mathes, not missing a beat.
Later, Shaffer made numerous laps around town in his golf cart ‘ adorned with the lettering ‘New Amsterdam Patrol’ on the front windshield ‘ to make sure everyone had everything in place for the festival. Then, before he took a quick break with his daughter for a hamburger, he made sure the local newspaper was made aware of the first-ever kids’ fishing derby taking place that afternoon at a small pond at the edge of town.
Shaffer later took time out from the festival to talk a while with Ron and Marilyn Zirnheld of Valley City about the town.
The Zirnhelds were originally from Henryville, then moved to Florida and eventually came back to Indiana, settling down in Harrison County.
Shaffer explained how a clerical error caused the U.S. Census to report the town’s population to be just one in 2000 and talked about how New Amsterdam is still the state’s smallest incorporated town. When he finally concluded his history lesson, Shaffer made sure to invite the Zirnhelds back for next year’s festival.
‘We love it down here,’ Marilyn Zirnheld said Saturday. ‘Where we lived in Florida was a very small town, but this has a different feel. I love quaint, and this is about as quaint as you can get. The parade was fantastic.’
Fate dealt New Amsterdam a heavy blow two days later: Shaffer passed away in his sleep Monday, two days after another wildly successful Remembrance Day had been put to bed.
Mathes, a Corydon auctioneer and farmer who often provided historical facts during the parade about each tractor, antique car and sometimes the driver, had known Shaffer for about five decades. He said he envies the Shaffers’ efforts in the putting on Remembrance Day and hopes it will continue.
‘He put on that parade down there without any organized police help. I remember that first year I was down there to help and, for traffic control, he just turned his old Ford Courier truck sideways in the middle of the street and stuck a hay bale out in the road,’ Mathes said. ‘That’s all he needed.
‘Brent was an intelligent man even though he sometimes didn’t look like it in his long beard and overalls. He was very knowledgeable mechanically. He could work on or fix just about anything. He’ll be missed.’
And remembered.
Click for photo gallery

* * *

Born Dec. 23, 1942, in Harrison County, Shaffer was the son of the late Charles Wilson and Mary A. Pitman Shaffer.
He was a retired inspector at the Ford Truck Plant in Louisville, was the ‘mayor’ and president of the New Amsterdam Town Council, was a member of the UAW Local 862 and Central Christian Church, and was an Army veteran.
Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by a sister, Sherry Joann Kaelin.
Survivors include his wife, the former Mary Faye Roby; two sons, James Bryan Shaffer of Corydon and Charles A. (Andy) Shaffer of New Amsterdam; three daughters, Marci A. Bailey of Buchanan, Tenn., JoAnna L. Barks of New Amsterdam and Laura L. Hess of Depauw; a brother, Charles G. (Bub) Shaffer of Corydon; and five grandchildren.
Visitation was yesterday (Tuesday) and will be today from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and tomorrow after 9 a.m. at Beanblossom-Cesar Funeral Home in Corydon.
The funeral will be tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the funeral home followed by burial in New Amsterdam Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Steve Federspiel, Charlie Shireman, Gary Ripperdan, Bob Crosier, Lee McCullum, Benny Mullen, Carl (Buck) Mathes and Jim Chism. Honorary pallbearers will be Jerry Reed, Howard Phipps, Junior Cotner, Jim Brewer, David Thorton, Wade Smith, Howard Fisher, Bruce Watson, Stevie Mullen and Jasper Williams.
The family suggests memorial gifts to New Amsterdam United Methodist Church.

LATEST NEWS