Edna man killed in crash was 'old school' friend to many
Paul Richard Schaffer was old school.
He was a third-generation railroad worker who didn't like frilly things, never knew a stranger and was considered one simple man with a humorous heart.
Schaffer was such an old soul that when his friends and family lay him to rest on Thursday, they plan to bury him with a hat that has the words "I'm old School" written across it - a gift his wife and daughter gave him.
Schaffer died Saturday after colliding with a tractor pulling a 20-foot shredder.
He was giving his daughter a lift home, family friend Elba Johndrow said.
Johndrow, a lifelong friend of Schaffer's wife, said she considers Paul and the Schaffer's to be more like her adopted family.
"Paul never said no if somebody needed his help," Johndrow said. "He was full of life - this is all so shocking."
Schaffer and his daughter, Alecia Sparkman, 27, of Edna, were northbound on Farm-to-Market Road 234 about 8:30 p.m. Saturday night when they passed the southbound tractor, according to a crash report.
As the pickup passed the tractor, the left side of the truck struck the shredder, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Trooper Gerald Bryant. The truck spun counterclockwise - sideways - and slid into the ditch before flipping, Bryant said.
Schaffer, 59, was taken to Citizens Medical Center. He was pronounced dead later that night by a doctor.
His daughter was transported to DeTar Hospital Navarro and later released.
The driver of the tractor, Tom Wingler Johnson, 60, of Edna, was not injured.
Johndrow said her friend's death is still settling in for her and family, and people who's lawns he took care of after retiring are finding out about his death when they call the house wondering where he's at.
"He was supposed to mow my lawn today," they would say.
Every single thing Schaffer did was a labor of love, Johndrow said.
Even mowing the lawn.
"He always told the people to pay what they could afford," she said. "It didn't matter if he came out in the hole - that's just him."
Schaffer left behind his wife, Nancy Lopez Schaffer, his daughter and son, Rockne Schaffer, his brother Donnie Schaffer, sister Roxanne Garza and his mother Gloria Argo.
Schaffer will be remembered in many ways by friends and family: a former Edna volunteer firefighter in his younger glory days, the type of person who rides his four-wheeler slow to catch the view, the true definition of a middle child and a man who's handshake is as good as his word - that's just what made him old school.
Reporter Sara Sneath contributed to this story.