Shaffer, Charles

SHAFFER, Jr., Charles



Charles Milton Shaffer, Jr., was a beloved and caring husband, father, and grandfather, a loyal and devoted friend, a successful lawyer and a dedicated civic volunteer. Charlie approached life with unparalleled enthusiasm and unlimited encouragement and compassion for others. Although he lost his battle with Alzheimer's on Thursday, March 18, 2021, he took on this challenge just as he did everything else in life – with humility, courage and optimism. His openness and candor about his diagnosis helped raise awareness and acceptance of a disease that affects over six million Americans.

Charlie was born on December 21, 1941 in Durham, North Carolina to Charles Milton Shaffer and Charlotte Winborne Shaffer. He grew up in Chapel Hill, NC and attended Woodberry Forest School in Virginia where he was a prefect, co-captain of the football team, and captain of both the basketball and tennis teams. He graduated cum laude in 1960 and was awarded the Woodberry Forest Service Medal for Excellence in Scholarship and Athletics as well as the William B. Mason Memorial Medal for Outstanding Senior Athlete.

Highly recruited as a football quarterback, he was awarded the Morehead Scholarship to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was elected class president his junior and senior years. Despite a knee injury that ended his football career, he became co-captain of the varsity basketball and tennis teams and played during Coach Dean Smith's first three basketball seasons. He was also a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Order of the Grail, Order of the Old Well, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and Order of Gimghoul. Upon graduation in 1964, he was awarded the Frank Porter Graham Award as one of the Four Outstanding Seniors.

While in college, Charlie met and fell in love with Harriet Hayne Houston from Greenville, South Carolina, and they were married in 1964. He graduated from the UNC School of Law in 1967, where he was also the assistant freshman basketball coach for three years. Following graduation, the couple moved to Atlanta where he joined the law firm of King & Spalding as a trial lawyer.

Charlie enjoyed a 35-year career at King & Spalding where he was a partner and served as Chairman of both its Litigation Department and of the hiring committee. He was a member of the American College of Trail Lawyers and also served as president of the Atlanta Bar Association. After 35 years at King & Spalding, he accepted the position of president and CEO of The Marcus Institute, a center for children with developmental disabilities. He retired in 2007 to join The Westminster Schools as Vice President for Institutional Advancement where he helped the school exceed its $100 million capital campaign.

His passion for athletics and community service led Charlie to take on numerous leadership roles. He was a member of the "Atlanta Nine" which brought the 1996 Summer Olympics to Atlanta. He also served as president of the Atlanta Sports Council from 1996-2000, leading a successful bid that brought the Super Bowl to Atlanta in 2000. Seven years later, he participated in the successful effort for Atlanta to host the Men's Final Four Tournament in 2007. He was chairman of Leadership Atlanta, and also served on the board of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, the Carter Center Board of Councilors, the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Woodberry Forrest School, and Kanuga Conference Center.

Charlie was a devoted member of All Saints' Episcopal Church where he served on the Vestry and was also Senior Warden. For many years, he taught popular Sunday school classes on religion and literature including a very memorable course on Dante's The Divine Comedy.

In 1996, Charlie received the prestigious William Richardson Davie Award from the Board of Trustees of UNC in honor of extraordinary service to the university and/or to society. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (1998) and the Distinguished Alumni Award (2010). He was co-chair of the 2006-2013 Carolina First Campaign which raised $2.1 Billion. He also enjoyed fellowship and friendship provided by the Atlanta Rotary Club, the Piedmont Driving Club, Highlands Country Club and Peachtree Golf Club.

While Charlie led a life full of accomplishments, he will be best remembered for his great passion for life, his inherent goodness, and his capacity to see the very best in everyone. He had a wonderful sense of humor and balanced a monumental work ethic with a great appreciation for the smaller pleasures of life. He was an eternal optimist whose boundless positive attitude enabled him to take on any challenge. To say the glass was half full for Charlie is an epic understatement – it was always overflowing regardless of the circumstance.

Most important of all, Charlie deeply loved his wife, children and grandchildren whose abiding love will keep his spirit alive. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Harriet Houston Shaffer and their three children: Charles M. Shaffer III (Karen) of Greenwich, Connecticut; and daughters Caroline Shaffer Vroon (Bryan) and Harriet "Emi" Shaffer Gragnani (Michael) of Atlanta. Missing their Papa are eight grandsons and one granddaughter: Charles Milton Shaffer IV, Andrew Shaffer, Ada Shaffer, David (Charles) Vroon, Dylan Vroon, Daniel Vroon, (Charles) Houston Gragnani, Henry Gragnani and Emmett Gragnani. Charlie's sister, Winborne Shaffer Chandler (Dr. Dudley "Chan" Chandler) of Winston-Salem, also survives him, as do his sister-in-law and brother-in-law Caroline and Alex McMillan of Charlotte, and many devoted nieces and nephews. The family thanks special friend Johnny Daniel and his wonderful caregiving staff and is grateful for the devoted staffs at the Breman Jewish Home and the Mann House.

There will be a private burial ceremony for the family in Chapel Hill and a celebration of life in Atlanta at a later day when conditions permit. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to one of the following organizations that meant so much to Charlie—and that were so much a part of his life's journey: The University of North Carolina for The Charles and Charlotte Shaffer Scholarship Fund, University Development Office, P.O. Box 309, Chapel Hill, NC 27514 or at; All Saints' Episcopal Church, 634 W Peachtree St NW, Atlanta, GA 30308 or; Respite Care Atlanta, 2715 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30305 or; and the Emory Goizueta Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, 1762 Clifton Rd, NE, Suite 1400, Atlanta, GA 30322 or