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Richard Shaffner

Richard Shaffner

We are deeply saddened to share that Richard, beloved husband, father, and friend, passed away on Saturday, June 11, 2022, at the Valley Hospice in Kentville, NS.

Richard was the son of Willard and Helen (Sweetser) Shaffner. He was born and raised in Middleton, Nova Scotia, at a time when children had the good fortune to be able to explore their world at their own pace, with curiosity and independence. He developed many lifelong friendships as a child, friendships which were forged through exploring, adventuring, and playing hours of sports on improvised courts and fields around Middleton. Richard loved sport his whole life, and in particular enjoyed baseball, basketball, football, and golf, both as a fan and as a participant.

Richard graduated from Middleton Regional High School and went on to receive a BA from Acadia University and an MA from the University of Alberta, both in Economics. While attending university, he spent the summers working at Keltic Lodge in Ingonish Beach, Cape Breton. He took advantage of working at Keltic to improve his golf game at Highland Links, a course that he loved and considered one of the best in Canada.

After graduating from the University of Alberta, Richard felt unsure of his career path and took a year to travel and work in Europe. He worked the winter in the resort town of Leysin, Switzerland, and enjoyed a season of skiing before travelling around Europe in an ancient VW Beetle with his long-time friend from Middleton, Rob Newcombe. From Monaco for the Grand Prix, to Turkey for the Grand Bazaar, and Scotland for all the golf, Richard had quite a year of adventures which both shaped his outlook on the world and helped develop a love of travel which he enjoyed throughout his life. One of his great memories of this year abroad was a walk-on game of golf that he played on a dreary September day with two seasoned locals at the Old Course at St. Andrews, where the green fees were then less than 1£.

Richard returned to Canada and started his career in Montreal. He took a position as an economist with the C.D. Howe Institute, a job he credited with helping him develop research, analytical, and writing skills that were invaluable throughout his career. In his role at C.D. Howe, he wrote and commentated on various policy issues of the time, and also served as the Canadian Director of Research for the Institute’s Canadian-American Committee. While living in Montreal, Richard’s leisure time was largely devoted to skiing and playing golf in the Eastern Townships. He particularly enjoyed golf at Cowansville Golf Club, which he considered his home course for many years. It was here that he met Deborah, the woman who would become the love of his life.

Richard and Deborah married and settled in Nova Scotia, living first in Halifax, and after the birth of daughters Carolyn and Ellen, moving to Wolfville. Richard enjoyed a 27-year career with the Province of Nova Scotia, working first in economic planning and policy, and later administering consumer protection legislation as the province’s Director of Consumer Services. Upon retirement, he enjoyed looking after the property of his much-loved historic home in Wolfville, and played many, many rounds of golf with good friends at KenWo Golf Club and other nearby courses. He also enjoyed travelling with Deborah to the far reaches of the planet including Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, China, and all over Europe. 

Throughout his life, Richard was a quiet, thoughtful, patient, and kind person. He was frugal and moderate in all things, a hard worker, and he believed strongly in the value of nature, the importance of reducing waste and the ever-increasing need to protect the environment. He was straightforward, fair, and a steady rock for those around him, quietly offering wisdom, compassion, and fortitude to his family and friends when it was needed. His gentle and constant nature was a source of enduring strength for Deborah and the girls, to whom he was devoted. He was a true friend to many, a wonderful father to Carolyn and Ellen, and a supportive, loving partner to Deb. Words cannot begin to describe the love and light he was, so we simply end by stating that, truly, he was one of the good ones.

Richard is survived by his wife, Deborah; daughters, Carolyn, Fort McMurray, and Ellen (Rob), Halifax; sister, Nancy (Maurice), Overstrand, Norfolk, England; brother, Paul, Middleton; nieces, Elizabeth (Sam), and Emily (Matthew), Norfolk, England; cousin, Judy, Pownal, Maine; grand-niece, Alice; and grandnephews, Ben, Peter, and Rupert. He was predeceased by his parents.

Cremation has taken place. A celebration of Richard’s life will be held on Thursday, June 23 at 2:00 p.m. at White Family Funeral Home in Kentville. A reception will follow. No flowers by request. The family would like to thank Dr. Sudeep Shivakumar and Dr. Melanie MacNeil for the care they offered Richard during his battle with aggressive lymphoma, and the staff of the Valley Hospice for making his final days as comfortable as possible.

Donations in memory of Richard may be made to the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation or the Valley Hospice Foundation. Additionally, those eligible to register as stem cell donors may consider doing so in Richard’s honour. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the White Family Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Kentville. On-line condolences and inquiries may be directed to

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Service Date
Thursday, June 23, 2022
Service Time
2:00 p.m.
Service Location
White Family Funeral Home, Kentville, Nova Scotia

Requested Charity
Valley Regional Hospital Foundation or Valley Hospice Foundation