Frederick Chaffey

Obituary of Frederick Jensen Chaffey

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On January 25, 2024, under the light of a full moon, Skipper Frederick Jensen Chaffey set sail for new horizons. Born in 1928 in Bishops Falls, NL, he was the son of Frederick Chaffey Sr. of Change Islands and Fanny Chaffey (née Jenson) of Harbour Breton. The family settled at Change Islands when he was three, where Fred resided until 2022. With nothing but saltwater in his veins and the determined beat of his heart, Fred set about to live a life that was an example of how life should be lived. As a teenager he landed a job with merchant Mr. William Earle who became a mentor to the young Fred. After a very short stint as a hand Mr. Earle asked him to take the helm of his passenger boat and transport him and his distinguished guests to Fogo Island to see the Governor General. And thus dreams of becoming a sea captain were forged and while still a teenager, Fred went into business for himself. With his natural instinct for marine navigation, the confidence embedded by Mr. Earle’s trust in him, and business experience from his father’s shop on the island, he acquired his first vessel called The Pednot that he renamed The Notre Dame and founded Chaffey Shipping Ltd. Future boats included The Miami, The Bonnie Nell II, The Botwood, The Barbara Darlene and the Agnes and Anne II. Like in life, there are sometimes harrowing moments at sea and there were times when he navigated treacherous waters, sometimes the only mark of land the lap of the sea against the shore as a guide. In those times he turned to his crew to help, and he always made it home, defeating the odds and an angry Atlantic Ocean. In life his crew was his family and friends and in 1960 a pretty young nurse from Mossbank, Saskatchewan, Elizabeth Krauss, came to Change Islands for the winter. Fred, never one to waste an opportunity, soon made her his co-skipper. In fact, much of their courtship consisted of her tagging along on freight trips to Twillingate, Lewisporte and Fogo. He delighted in the fact that she never encountered a hint of seasickness, even if her only experience with waves were that of Saskatchewan wheat stalks fluttering in the wind. Elizabeth, the daughter of champion ballroom dancers, found the perfect partner in Fred and just as they moved through life as one, so they encircled the floors of any dance hall they found, with a rare rhythm and grace. They particularly enjoyed an old-fashioned Newfoundland waltz. Fred moved his parents to Lewisporte in the summer of 1960. On Valentine’s Day that following year, he proposed to Elizabeth and on March 24, they were married and soon started their family, with a daughter, Kim. But the island called them home and in the summer of 1964 they bought a house there and built a clinic on the back. Elizabeth became community nurse, while Fred operated his shipping company. A son, Kent, was born in 1965, and their family was complete. In 1968 the provincial government came looking, found Fred and offered him the contract to run a ferry service from Main Tickle, Change Islands to Cobbs Arm. He accepted, purchased a suitable a boat and started a new phase of his life. Upon the completion of a highway up through the South Island of Change Islands, the service moved to the South End—Farwell run. In 2015 the government showed up again, and honoured Fred by naming one of the lounges on the new ferry, The Veteran, the Chaffey-Miller Lounge, after him and Paddy Miller of Fogo Island, for pioneering the ferry services from their respective islands. Fred was honoured to attend ceremonies held in St. John’s and Farewell. Eyeing the complicated engines of the MV Veteran, then sitting in the comfortable captain chair on her bridge, at the age of 87 he remarked with a wink that he might have retired too soon. But none of those accomplishments capture the essence of the man. Over the course of his ninety-five years Fred Chaffey became a steadfast pillar in the community, and stories of his generosity and good nature abound. With an easy smile, loyalty to his family, work ethic, constant patience, collegial attitude, sense of humour, and charity, he was looked up to as all that a man should be. Hundreds of yarns of sea-faring adventures across the run on one of Fred’s boats, are spun by people around Notre Dame Bay. They always include a word about his kindness, his easy conversation and humour and ofttimes the can of corn beef down in the galley table for the hungry traveller. His work ethic was unmatched and his ability to fix a motor or anything else that needed mending was unparalleled, sometimes under siege by a raging storm. His charity was a hallmark of his personal philosophy. Many times, he “forgot” to collect fares leaving those with little to their name, both their dignity and the hard-earned money they needed to live off. He gave much time and currency to those who faced hardship, and never missed either once given, satisfied with the knowledge he’d done good. Fred dropped anchor on Chaffey’s Shipping Ltd. for the last time when he turned sixty-five and had a very happy retirement for thirty years. Elizabeth and Fred travelled together and enjoyed their golden days, blessed with good health for most that time. They also spent twenty-four winters at Sun Seekers Park in North Fort Myers, Florida, developing many close friendships and he soon became a pillar in his new, adopted community. The affable, modest, and ever-humble Fred will be greatly missed by many family members and friends, in the Change Islands community and beyond. His stories of past adventures as a sailor, and social times will sustain many, for a man of such greatness and longevity leaves more memories than most. In his kind eyes were the twinkle of adventure, and the spark of a life spent serving the public. He lived a life that spanned a unique era, in an occupation that no longer exists in rural Newfoundland. He not only lived in a historical time, in a historical place, but he was instrumental in creating that history. May the example Frederick Jenson Chaffey set be a beacon to all for at the flickering of his last light, he shone brightest in our hearts, like the full moon that oversaw his final voyage. Fred is predeceased by his father Frederick George Chaffey, of Change Islands, his mother Fanny Helena Chaffey (née Jenson) of Harbour Breton, sisters and spouses, Mildred Decker (Reginald), Faith Gale (Alvin), Ruby, and brother and sister—law, Lorne (Ruby), brother-in-law Norman. Left behind to follow her beloved husband later, is the love of his life, wife, Elizabeth. Mourning their dear dad are daughter, Kim Chaffey (Gerry Cote), and son, Kent Chaffey (Carolyn), and missing Grandpa/Pop are grandchildren Michael, Alex, Alyssa (Scott), Christie, Sophia and Martina, and great-grandchildren Dante, Aleena, Dominic, and Kayden. Also sad at his passing are brother-in-law, Mervin Krauss (Evelyn) Sisters-in-law Shearn Bonner (Doug), Robyn Sahl (Barry) and Holly Stahn. Missing their dear uncle are nieces and nephews Wendy Decker, Lorna Chaffey-Ricketts (Trent), Brian Gale (Cheryl), Dale Chaffey (Helen), and Darryl Hughboy (Karen), Ryan (Katherine), Daryl (Tracy), Pamela (Simon), Dwayne, Brian (Brittany), Richard (Sam), Darren, Daniel (Amanda), Holly (Mike), Heidi and Fraser, and their families. His circle was large and a great many from Change Islands, and the surrounding area, as well as at Kingsway Living in Lewisporte, have lost a dear friend. The family expresses great appreciation for the professionalism and compassion of Dr. Paulus and the staff at James Peyton Memorial Hospital, Gander. Arrangements have been placed in the care of Families Funeral Home, 9 Forward Drive, Lewisporte, with visitation on Monday, January 29th, from 2-4pm and 7-9pm. In keeping with his wishes cremation has taken place. As expressions of sympathy, donations may be made in his memory to the Lionel Kelland Hospice.
A Memorial Tree was planted for Frederick
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Families Funeral Home
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Frederick Chaffey

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Frederick Chaffey

1928 - 2024

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