Jesse Gerald Schaffer (Jess) passed unexpectedly at home on June 28, 2019 in Farmington, New Mexico at the age of 70.
Jess is survived by his loving wife, Wanda (Hampton) Schaffer; children, Jesse (Gerald) Schaffer, Julie Linnens, Justine McDaniel and Phillip Schaffer; siblings, Frank (Eddie) Schaffer, Della McNutt, Gladys Robertson and Maea Morgan; six grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and too many nieces, nephews and cousins to mention. He is preceded in death by his parents, Phillip Schaffer and Josephine (Duran) Schaffer; his sisters, Dora Alejo and Virginia Primm; and half-brothers and sister, Ivan Schaffer, Josie Chavez, William Schaffer and Phillip Schaffer, Jr.
Jesse was born Juan Jesus Schaffer on September 9, 1948 in Hot Springs, New Mexico to Phillip and Josephine. He graduated from Hot Springs High (Truth or Consequences) in 1966. He married Jewel Spurgeon, enlisted in the Navy and began building a family. After being discharged, they moved to Silver City where Jess started his career as a machinist for Phelps Dodge and their family continued to grow. Later, a relocation to Farmington, New Mexico resulted in Jess working as a machinist and supervisor for Arizona Public Service (Four Corners Power Plant) and Public Service Company of New Mexico (San Juan Generating Station). It was at PNM that Jess and Wanda met in February of 1996, and they eventually fell in love. They married on February 10, 2001 and enjoyed 17 years of laughing, loving, traveling and making wonderful memories together.
Jesse was especially proud of the time he spent in the Navy and the role he played in American history. While a dental technician on board the USS Hornet, his crew was tasked with recovering the Apollo 11 space capsule upon splash down. On June 24, 1969, after the historic moon walk, Jess' ship successfully picked up the space module and headed to Hawaii. This was a momentous occasion in the history of mankind, and there was a huge media frenzy as President Nixon arrived to greet the three rescued astronauts and the crew of the USS Hornet. Forty-three years later, he and Wanda visited the Hornet near San Francisco, where it had been repurposed as a museum in order to preserve the extensive USS Hornet's history. When the docents learned Jess had been a crew member when the Apollo 11 astronauts were rescued, they made him feel like a celebrity. They showed them areas of the ship that was not open to the public (including the dental lab where Jesse had worked). Much to Jess' delight, a group of tourists learned of his presence, and insisted on taking a picture of him while he stood in front of the landing module … beaming proudly from ear to ear. He enjoyed the fellowship and friendship of fellow members of the Knights of Columbus and VFW, and loved sharing memories when he would run into an old co-worker or friend when he was out.
On Tuesday July 16, 2019, a Rosary and Mass will be held for Jess at Cope Memorial Chapel starting at 8:30 am at 404 W. Arrington Street, Farmington, NM 87401; (505) 327-5142). Interment will follow at Santa Fe National Cemetery (501 N Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501; (505) 988-6400. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Jesse Schaffer's life. The family would like to thank Cope Memorial Chapel for their commitment, effort and support. Finally, they appreciate the dozens of calls, texts and messages sharing memories of Jess as well as their condolences.