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Tom Shaffer, a top real estate salesperson for decades and a member of the Murieta Voices chorus, died Dec. 12 at age 81. Mr. Shaffer also served as a Rancho Murieta Association director in the 1990s and as its president in 1995. 

He was a steel industry executive in the 1960s when he met his wife, Pat, on a Young Republicans trip to the Bahamas. They married in 1968 and settled in Chicago, where their son, Douglas, and daughter, Stephanie, were born. 

The family moved to Rancho Murieta in 1982 after the reorganization of the steel company where Mr. Shaffer worked. Pat Shaffer went to work in real estate, and her husband followed a couple of years later. In 1989, the company that employed them was sold and they went to Lyon Real Estate. 

"Pat was a super saleslady," Mr. Shaffer said in a 2010 interview for a story about his wife’s passing. "She had a nice way about her. I was more nuts and bolts. I had a master's in business, so I knew the numbers. She was the sweetheart. We had some good years." 

Both achieved the status of  Outstanding Life Member of Sacramento Association of Realtors Masters Club.

Murieta Voices

Tom Shaffer was front and center for this 2015 photo of the Murieta Voices. (Click for larger image)

Thomas D. Shaffer was born Oct. 15, 1937 in the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, area. He served in the Air Force, was discharged in 1962, and earned an engineering degree from Bucknell University in 1963 and a master’s degree in business administration from Loyola University Chicago in 1971.

“He managed to get the MBA at probably the busiest time of his life,” said Mr. Shaffer’s son. When he lived back East, his son said, “I don’t know what it was about California. ... He wanted to move to California.”

Lee Holm, a Rancho Murieta friend, said because she and Mr. Shaffer both lived parts of their lives in Pennsylvania, “We had a bond.” She said she heard from him often, by phone or email, about their college sports teams.

They met years ago at church, when Mr. Shaffer, sitting behind her, did such a good job singing the hymns that she suggested he should join the church choir, or at least join her with the Voices group, then called the Village Voices, for its performances at area retirement homes.

Mr. Shaffer had a beautiful, booming bass voice, Holm said, and he sang with the Murieta Voices for more than a decade until this year, when he was barely able to walk.

“He was always such a good-hearted person when it came to the Voices,” she said, and serving the group was his biggest concern. “This is what I live for,” he told her often. “I love to come and sing.”

His signature number with the Voices was “The Whiffenpoof Song,” which he performed solo, said another Voices friend, Marianna Hashorva. She is also a Pennsylvania native, and Mr. Shaffer peppered her with emails about news from their shared Keystone State.

She remembered he brought the Voices a piece of music he found, a Swahili Christmas song called “Heri Za Krismas.” “Thanks to him, we sing that every Christmas now,” Hashorva said. “And when we sing that song, we’ll probably always think of him.”

Last Oct. 15, for Mr. Shaffer’s 81st birthday, members of the Voices came to his house to sing “Happy Birthday.”

In addition to his son and daughter, both of Rancho Murieta, he is survived by two sisters. A memorial Mass will be celebrated 11 a.m. Jan. 10 at St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church on Cantova Way, where Mr. Shaffer was a member. The family requests that remembrances be made to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

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