Donald Chaffee

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A graveside service will be held Sunday, May 2, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. at Evergreen Hill Cemetery, Vanderbilt, MI.

Donald L. Chaffee, 86, of Vanderbilt, passed away on March 5, 2021.

He was born the son of Clifford and Mary (Savage) Chaffee on December 26, 1934, in Harrison Michigan.

Don married Joan Weldon on October 1, 1955, in Harrison, MI, at the Assembly of God Church.

Don was a hard-working businessman and began his first job at the age of 11, working on Henry Ford’s 1600-acre farm.  He worked several different jobs and in 1960, moved to Vanderbilt.  He started his excavating and pumping business in 1966.  He ran his family business for more than 50 years, and his legacy continues with the excavating business, now run by his son and the pumping service will continue when his grandson takes over in the spring.   He was well known and respected by many locals.  He served on the Vanderbilt school board, church boards, and the Otsego County Road Commission.   One of Don’s and Joan’s greatest joys was working with their children and grandchildren and teaching them a strong work ethic.

Don loved his woods and knew the species of every tree in this area.  Both he and Joan grew up going to church and made sure their children were always in church as well as the several others they picked up along the way.   He was involved in several areas of the church including helping with many building projects.

He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Don is survived by his wife of 65 years, Joan; children, Randy, Nicholas (Sandra), and Lisa (Jeff); daughter-in-law, Carol; grandchildren, Ann, Mary, Matthew, Adam, Chloe, Luke, Becky, Zach, and Katie; five great-grandchildren; siblings, Alice Wilson of Harrison, MI, Paul (Harumi) of Sacramento, CA, and Elizabeth (Hugo) Noeske.

Don was preceded in death by his parents and son, Greg.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, March 10, 2021, at noon at Vanderbilt Community Church. Visitation will take place Tuesday, March 9, 2021, from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Vanderbilt Community Church, 455 W. Main St., Vanderbilt, MI 49795 and will continue on Wednesday (March 10) from 11:00 a.m. until the time of services.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Vanderbilt Community Church, 455 W. Main St., Vanderbilt, MI 49795.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Nelson Funeral Home and Cremation Service, PO Box 1548, Gaylord, MI 49734.

23 comments on “Donald Chaffee”

  1. Don and Mary Howrd

    Joan and family, you are in our thoughts and prayers. Don will certainly be missed by many. What a wonderful man. Know he is with his Heavenly father and Greg. Holding you all up . May you find peace, understanding and cherish those wonderful memories of him. Till yu join him on those streets of gold.

  2. Joan, Randy & Dawn, Nick & Sandy, Lisa & Jeff and to all the sweet family of Don, we are so sorry for your loss but also rejoice with you in knowing Don is at home with Jesus!

    We have always loved your family and all of our chats with Don. He was so sweet, never in a hurry and always had a good story to tell! He modeled hard work as well as the passion for helping anyone in need!

    He leaves a great legacy in each of you! Please know you are in our many thoughts and prayers, today and in the days to come❤️ John & Jan Lake

  3. What a kind, hard working, friendly guy from our Vanderbilt church. He and Joan were always together & we’ll sure miss Don on sundays and in his truck! God bless the family as they mourn. May God comfort them thru the prayers of friends.
    Love Cindi and George Jackson

  4. Joan and family so sorry for the loss of Don! I always enjoyed talking to him when I seem him. He was a great man. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers!

  5. The Yuill family sends sympathies to the Chaffee family. Don will truly be missed, a kind man who would do anything for anybody. My dad Richard had so much respect for Don, always there. Thoughts and prayers with your family. Jim Yuill

  6. Jerry and Melissa Ryckman

    Joan, Randy and Family,

    With heartfelt sympathy, we are saddened by your loss. Don always had a smile on his face, a story to tell, and love in his heart, which would radiate onto others. Truly, he was a remarkable soul.
    Knowing him was a privilege and a blessing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  7. Aunt Joan & Family, The Fillion family (Jan Reed-Fillion) send our sympathy to all your family. We are so very sad to lose Uncle Don. Jan Reed-Fillion at 3 years old was the flower girl at Aunt Joan & Uncle Don’s wedding. You both will always be in my heart. Jan Reed-Fillion

  8. Janice Johnson

    Gary and I are saddened to think of your loss, Joan and family! He was a dear man, but we know he is with Jesus now.

  9. Carol Reed Martin

    Aunt Joan, Randy, Nick, Lisa and the entire Chaffee family, I am so saddened to lose Uncle Don. He was such a wonderful man. He will be missed. I loved sitting around the campfire listening to all the stories!! Fond memories that will never be forgotten. My heart goes out to you all. If you need anything I’m only a phone call away. Sympathy and Love to all of you.

  10. Mary Fox and Pete Amar

    Joan, Randy, Nick, Sandy, and Lisa Jeff: our hearts are saddened to learn of Don’s passing. A friend to many, always a kind smile and warm welcome. His legacy lives on in his wonderful family. May you find comfort in fond memories and know that we hold you all in our prayers.,,

  11. sandy Messerschmidt and don messerschmidt

    Don and I are Very sad about Don’s passing. A very Sweet Man with a sweet Soul. He will be missed very much. BLESS YOU ALL. DON AND SANDY MESSERSCHMIDT. Am also sad that we cant be there for the service. We are still in Az. Will start for home Easter Weekend.

  12. sandy Messerschmidt and don messerschmidt

    Don and I are Very sad about Don’s passing. A very Sweet Man with a sweet Soul. He will be missed very much. BLESS YOU ALL. DON AND SANDY MESSERSCHMIDT.

  13. Stephanie Moore

    Praying for you all. I have so many wonderful memories with the Chaffee family. Carol and Greg took me to church as a kid and Don and Joan took my Dad to church as a kid. I honestly can’t think of a better family. Thoughts and prayers from the Moore family.

  14. Kevin and Rhonda (Leese) Ford.

    We are so sad to hear of Don’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers to his family.

  15. Terry and Mary Hall

    So sorry to hear of Don’s passing. We have known Don for many years while visiting the Vanderbilt area. Intriguing conversation and a cup of coffee became Don’s tradition with a friendly smile and vivacious spirit. May he Rest In Peace.

  16. Edmund Cherwinski

    My condolences to Joan, and all the Chaffee family. Don will certainly be missed, but we’ll see you again.

  17. To the Chaffee family.
    I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of Don. He was such a hard working and God filled man. Heaven truly has gained another follower of Christ! I know how hard the grief is at this time but your memories of all the wonderful times you all had together with him will get you through till you are reunited with him in Heaven!
    Joan, Nick, Sandy and ALL the Chaffee family.. you are all in prayers.🙏🙏🙏

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