In Memory

Herman Shaffer VIEW PROFILE

Herman Shaffer

Herman passed from this world on Saturday, September 26 after fighting cancer for many years. He had a passion for the Royals, Chiefs and the KU Jayhawks. Herman and I spent quite a bit of time together and he will be missed greatly. We enjoyed being in the Marching Jayhawk Band and traveling to various athletic events. He never let his handicap keep him from enjoying tennis or softball. I never could beat him at gin rummy and he got the best of me several times in friendly games of poker. As the Greeks say "may his memory be eternal."

--Submitted by Steve Kellepouris

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09/29/15 09:06 AM #2    

James Edson

I'm sorry I missed him for the past 46 yrs here on earth.  He was a great heart and fun to be around.  I remember he kept our lunch period a fun respite to the rest of the day.  RIP.


09/29/15 09:07 AM #3    

Laurence Oliver

My heart and thoughts are with Herman's friends and family as they grieve and learn to live without his physical presence.  May they be comforted in their many memories of him and knowing that his soul is with them and G-d,  Herman was a kind, sincere person with an endearing personality.  Rest in peace, Herman.

09/29/15 11:53 AM #4    

Jim Bernard

That was really sad news to learn from Arnold that Herman had died. He has had some really tough times health-wise. I have many memories of Hoim. He, Jon Morgan [now also deceased] and I had lots of adventures together, starting at Bingham and thru SW and beyond. Many others were also "co-conspirators" in some of the exploits, including Arnold, Sandy, Steve. One favorite memory was when in high school Hoim and I went to Chicago with his father [who went for business.] Hoim and I stayed in a really crummy room at the downtown Y, while his dad and uncle stayed in a nicer area and fancy hotel. But Herman and I "crashed" the NFL Player of the Year Awards dinner [not the meal part] where Johnny Carson and Buddy Hacket were two of the speakers. We got autographs from both of them, and several of the players. Herman and I continued to get together after law school, generally once a year in June to celebrate our birthdays, and I'll certainly miss seeing him and catching up. Rest in peace, Hoim, tell Jon hello, and save a place for me, my friend.  

09/29/15 03:01 PM #5    

Carol Swope (Walje)

Seems so odd to me to hear about Herman as I was just thinking about him last week.  He lived down the street from me and we went to grade school together, Bingham and then SW.  I had not seen him for a number of years, but 34 years ago, the holiday season after my first child was born, I went to my Dad's office Christmas party at the Savoy as my mom was sick.  Herman was my dad's administrative assistant's Godfather to her two children.  Had a wonderful evening spending it with Herman catching up and just enjoying the evening.  I did not see him again.  He was also such a warm hearted person and he is certainly missed by many.

09/29/15 06:50 PM #6    

Michael Makredes

Sorry to hear that another one of our classmates has passed on. Especially from cancer the most devastating of diseases. We all must keep praying for the ultimate cure. May his memory be eternal!

10/07/15 11:43 PM #7    

Manny Berman

I have very fond memories of Herman not only from Southwest High School and Bingham Jr. High but in our younger years as well as the time I spent with him at the University of Kansas. The comments and memories provided by all are 100% accurate. Herman was a very generous, gracious, and warm indivdual. He will be truly missed. I thought everyone might appreciate the Eulogy provided by Steve Fehr at his funeral. It presents several more insights to who Herman was and all the strugles he when through emotionally and phisically. May he now rest in peace and his sports teams satisfy his winning desire.

Here is the eulogy


Herman was born with Ollier’s disease. According to Wikipedia, Ollier’s is a rare, non-hereditary sporadic disorder in which tumors develop in the cartilage. People with Ollier’s are prone to breaking bones and normally have swollen, aching limbs. About one in every 100,000 individuals suffers from Ollier’s. And it carries a high risk of “skeletal, visceral and brain malignancy, which occurs in approximately 25% of patients …”

Herman was the one in every 100,000 and also part of the 25%. He underwent numerous operations to have tumors removed from his legs. Felice says there were some when Herman was very young. The first one I remember was in the 1970s, after law school, when we were both in our 20s. And I know there was another in the 1990s. And another shortly after the turn of the century. And one about three years ago. And of course one about four months ago, when his leg was amputated. One of the Drs told Felice that Herman was the only person he knew who had endured 8 different types of cancer.

Due to complications from Ollier’s, Herman lived his entire life with one leg shorter than the other. So he could not run like a normal child. This did not stop him from trying to compete. He loved to play softball. He would drive the ball into the outfield and if it fell in he would try to hop to first base, somehow reaching safely more often than I thought possible.

I met Herman on our first day of college in August of 1969. Herman, Bruce Margolin, and I have been close friends ever since. Herman was a gentle soul, ALMOST always in a jovial and joking mood,always ready to make fun of himself, and his friends, and the absurdities of life. And he possessed that keen, witty, cutting sense of humor. And he LOVED his sports; following his Royals, Chiefs and Jayhawks was his passion and his release.

I would like to say Herman never complained, but I don’t like to lie. Herman was a world-class complainer. Funny thing though, as Bruce pointed out to me the day before Herman died, is that he never complained about his own problems, many and serious though they were. Instead he saved his anger and his ire, his critiques and his criticisms, for those for whom he rooted so hard, the players who somehow could never quite live up to his expectations.

In August 1977, Herman and I drove to Chicago to see his beloved Royals who were in an intense pennant race with the White Sox. This was the team that won 102 games, more than any other Royals team has won in the regular season. But this weekend did not go so well. Friday night the Royals blew a lead in the 8th or 9th and the Sox won. The exact same thing happened Saturday afternoon. And again in the first game of the Sunday doubleheader. As we were waiting for the 2nd game to begin, Herman began screaming at the top of his lungs complaining bitterly about the poor play of our team. Five minutes later he was still going strong as the blue collar Chicago crowd looked on wondering just who is this madman? I grabbed Herman, told him he had to stop for our own well-being. He got up and disappeared. I found him two hours later, on the concourse, still fuming, and brought him back. The Royals came back too, winning the 2nd game, and soon thereafter winning 16 in a row. They did not disappoint Herman again until October when they blew a lead in the 9th inning of the deciding game of the ALCS vs the Yankees.

Five years after law school Herman and I found ourselves working together at the Jolley, Walsh law firm. Herman found his niche in litigation involving pension funds and employee benefits, and achieved what was to be his greatest success as a lawyer during the decade he spent there. But it was not to last. Ollier’s was not the only disease he had; like millions of others Herman suffered from mental illness. As his depression worsened it became clear that the practice of law was something he could not sustain, and so he left the firm, the law, and the workplace.

Herman was always very open about his problems. He spoke about the need to remove the stigma that can come with mental illness. He loved his psychiatrist, the great Fred Mittleman. And as dark as things could get he never lost his sense of humor; the screen name on his email was “Unipolar KC”.

A few years ago, I had occasion to ask Herman to educate me about anti-depressants a relative of mine was on. It was as if he had waited years for me to ask him this question. He spoke at length about all the drugs he had been on, explaining in detail the pluses and minuses of each, and how he was one of the very few for whom they had not been able to find a drug or combination of drugs which would do him much good. And as he said it there was this strange gleam, this look of pride in his eyes, as if to say my brain is so complicated that no one can figure out how it works.

Family was always first with Herman. As his depression worsened he moved his parents into his house. They loved, cared for and supported each other. After Harry and Muriel passed Herman convinced Felice to move back to KC and move in with him. And he always spoke with great pride and devotion about his niece Melodie and his nephews Edward and Eric.

When Herman was ready to return to the workforce about 15 years ago, I asked him to come work for me. But instead he wanted to help individuals who had problems with which he could understand and empathize. And so he went to work for the Mental Health Association of the Heartland. His job was to offer rental assistance, processing chronically homeless individuals---many of whom suffered from mental illness and/or addiction issues. And he continued that work later with Kim Wilson Housing. In a few moments, James Glenn, the Executive Director of Kim Wilson, will speak about the work Herman did there.

Back to sports very briefly. In the last few years Herman saved most of his venom for my (and his) beloved KU basketball team. After all, they have only won the conference 11 years in a row, and have not won the Final Four since 2008. But of course the Jayhawks had an ugly early exit from the Tournament in 2014. And then last March as Herman was lambasting the team, I had had enough and yelled back. He should not be so hard on Landen Lucas I said. He is only a 20-year-old kid, he is doing the best he can, and after all considering he really is the 11th best player on the team he is pretty good.

There was a pause. A long pause, as if Herman was thinking perhaps I had made a fair point. And then he quietly said, I know, I just want them to win, I’m not sure how many tournaments I have left.

Herman was right on both counts. KU went out early again. And it was his last tournament.

And so the final chapter. The next month the pain in his legs sharpened. He had a broken femur. He went to Omaha to see the Drs with whom he had been through so much. The news was grim. It was a rare, aggressive and untreatable cancer called CHONDROSARCOMA. The only hope was to amputate, so it could not spread. Herman agreed; he wanted to fight to prolong his life. So in short order the amputation happened. I fear he will not survive this I told Bruce.

But Herman proved me wrong again. He survived the operation and endured a month of rehab. He moved home, adapted to his new world, learned to drive with one leg, and contemplated how he might return to work. We got him an iPad and he learned how to text on it. Unfortunately. I was the only person he texted, and most of the texts predicted certain impending disaster for the Royals. But Herman, I protested, this is the best team we have had in 30 years. But then I smiled to myself and told him, it’s nice to have you back.

The end came swiftly and mercifully. When Felice returned home from a short trip out of town Herman was ill, and she took him to the emergency room. That was Monday night. Tests showed that the cancer was all over his chest. Apparently some cells had spread even before the amputation. There was nothing to do and nothing that could have been done. Saturday morning he was gone.

Eulogized by Steve Fehr

10/09/15 08:12 AM #8    

Sylvie Markowitz (Radvinsky)

I didn't know Herman very well and after reading all the comments, I wish I had known him better. What an incredible person he was, such a good and kind heart and he sufferred and endured so much. May his memory be for a blessing to his family and friends.

10/10/15 09:53 AM #9    

Jim Buzalas


A great loss for mankind.  A gentle soul whom I did not know well in school, but after reading his eulogy I wish I had.  We should all learn a lesson from Herman.  Be kind and help others and never give up on yourself and others.  Rest in peace. Jim Buzalas



10/18/15 05:13 PM #10    

Arnold Hermanson

Herman and I golfed together.  We began the sport in '68 or '69 and continued for about a decade.  Herman liked to play out of the woods.  His tee shots were out of this world.  I mean that semi-literally, we could never find the ball.  It was as if aliens had intercepted it.  He could hit it a mile in any direction.  I can say we played together but we only saw each other at the next tee.  We played tennis in high school.  That didn't last long but we gave it a try.  My Herman's great passion was cards.  Any game of cards - gin, poker, hearts, bridge, you name it and he could play it and was great at it.  We had a bridge group.  On any Friday or Saturday night you were likely to find Herman, Sandy Cohen, Sandy Test, Darryl Panethiere and I playing.  You can tell we had a vibrant social life.  As juniors at KU, Herman and I roomed together and our senior year we lived next to each other in a duplex.  Upon graduation, Herman went to law school and me to graduate school.  Herman started a rotating poker game a few years after law school that ran for five or six years.  We saw each other occasionally after the game folded but not as often as we had.  I had a family and Herman was involved in his practice.  And then he disappeared.

I heard through the grape vine that Herman had developed some health problems.  He was incommunicado. Try as I might, he was inaccessible.  The decades went by and I saw him three times, at his parent's funerals and my father's. 

About five years ago he gave me a call.  We met and continued to get together several times a year.  It was during this period that Herman clued me in to what he had been through and continued to fight against; a legion of pathologies no one has to deal with.  He was that one-in-a-million patient and medically untreatable. It was only a matter of time.  Manny Berman’s post of the eulogy, as delivered by one of Herman’s best friends, Steve Fehr, gives some idea of the war Herman fought and refused to surrender to.

Herman was my best friend.  I thank everyone who has contributed comments in his memory.  I know he loved Jim Bernard, Steve Kellaporous, Jon Morgan, Sandy Cohen and Darrell Panethiere.  Actually, he loved everyone. 

Herman, my dear friend, may your memory be as a blessing.



02/28/18 11:27 AM #11    

Donnie Bowerman

Herman was good friend at SWHS. We had a number of classes together over the years. He will be missed.

This is a copy of his published obit:

Herman Morris Shaffer, 64, of Overland Park, Kansas, passed away on Saturday, September 26th 2015, at Kansas City Hospice House. A graveside service is scheduled for Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 at 1:00 pm at Rosehill Cemetery, 6900 Troost, Kansas City, MO. 
Herman, a lifelong Kansas City resident, was preceded in death by his parents Harry and Muriel Shaffer.  

Herman graduated from Southwest High School in 1969 and from the University of Kansas in 1973. He then went to law school at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Throughout the 1980’s Herman worked at the law firm of Jolley, Moran, Walsh, Hager and Gordon, specializing in litigation involving employee benefits. In recent years, Herman worked with and was very committed to Kim Wilson Housing, Inc., a not-for profit focusing on delivering solutions for housing challenges. In his work at Kim Wilson Housing, Herman was particularly empathetic and gifted with his non-judgmental approach to providing help for those with mental illnesses needing support with housing.

Herman loved sports and greatly enjoyed following KU Basketball, the Kansas City Royals, and the Kansas City Chiefs. Herman’s dry sense of humor was adored by his family, friends, and coworkers. Throughout his life, Herman was devoted to his family and the successes of his niece and nephews. 
Herman is survived by his sister, Felice McDaniel of Overland Park, Kansas; his niece, Melodie McDaniel, of Los Angeles, California; nephews, Colonel Edward McDaniel, MD (Brenda) of Washington D.C., Eric McDaniel of Overland Park, Kansas; great nephews, Justin Conway and Michael McDaniel of Washington, D. C. and his dog Bo.

The family wishes to thank Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City, The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah, Kansas City Hospice House, NAMI of Greater Kansas City (National Alliance on Mental Illness), and Herman’s medical team at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City, Kim Wilson Housing, and NAMI of Greater Kansas City.


For a recent picture of Herman prior to his passing, click the following link:!/PhotosVideos/00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000/9311f0cb-f1be-4479-a1fd-695c4e4c943f

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