Longtime Durango resident Ernest A. Schaaf died Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at his home in Durango. He was 95.
Known as “Ernie,” he was born to Alvin and Edith Schaaf on Nov. 5, 1917, in Murray, Utah. Mr. Schaaf’s family had originally settled in Durango in the late 1800s, briefly moving to Utah before coming back when he was 2. His aunt was Olga Little, notably the first female mule skinner, outfitter and guide in the area.
“Ernie attended school in Animas City,” his family said. “He was sharp with a strong work ethic, and graduated from Durango High School at the age of 15.”
On Aug. 20, 1939, he married Peryl L. Kelley in Aztec.
Mr. Schaaf worked at Gradens Flour Mill until he enlisted in the Army Air Corps on Aug. 18, 1943. He trained as a gunner at several bases around the country. He was awaiting an assignment in the Pacific Theater when the war ended. Mr. Schaaf was honorably discharged in 1946.
After returning from the war, Mr. Schaaf opened a service station. Ernie’s Triangle Service was located at 1101 Main Ave. for most of his 48 years in the business.
Mr. Schaaf served on the Durango Planning Commission for 10 years and served numerous terms on the Hillcrest Board of Directors. During his term as president, he was instrumental in naming the Navajo Trail Open golf tournament.
Mr. Schaaf was a member of the Rotary Club of Durango, serving as its president in 1970-71. He also was a lifetime member of the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 507. He was a regular customer at Parsons Drug Store, where one of the local coffee clubs met.
As an avid sportsman, his hobbies included golfing, working with horses, hunting and fishing, often with his family.
“He embraced the outdoors as much as the outdoors embraced him,” his family said. “He considered every kid a member of the family and liberally devoted his time sharing stories and building lasting relationships. He was a man of character who depicted the values of the Greatest Generation.”
Mr. Schaaf was preceded in death by his grandchildren Joshua Waggoner and Kelley Aarvold.
He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Peryl Schaaf, of Durango; daughters G. Lavon Schaaf and Thelma “Tammy” Schreiner, both of Durango, and Sherri L. Gaugh of Aztec; son, E. Wayne Schaaf, of Dolores; seven grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, at First United Methodist Church of Durango, 2917 Aspen Drive.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Animas Museum, La Plata County Historical Society, P.O. Box 3384, Durango, CO 81302; and Colorado Talking Book Library, 180 Sheridan Blvd., Denver, CO 80226.