Gertrude Sheaffer was born in Memphis, Tennessee to Dr. Giles Augustus Coors and Gertrude Russell Coors, along with two brothers, George Alcorn and Giles Augustus Jr, all of whom preceded her. She attended Memphis’ Hutchison School before entering Bennett Junior College for Women in Millbrook, New York. She completed her undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University where she was affiliated with Delta Delta Delta Sorority.
On February 3, 1951, she married John Dunlap Sheaffer in her hometown before making their home of 66 years in Fort Madison, Iowa where they raised four children who survive: John Dunlap Sheaffer Jr. (Kathy), Virginia Sheaffer Kemp (Harry), Carolyn Sheaffer Masterson (Daniel) and Russell Walter Sheaffer (Vicki). She and John had nine grandchildren and one great grandchild. She was preceded in death by her husband on February 5th, 2021, following their 70th wedding anniversary.
Gertrude, or Gertie as she was affectionately known, spent much of her time volunteering for many charitable and civic organizations. She felt strongly about the preservation of historical buildings and landmarks, and actively supported the North Lee County Historical Society. With a talented eye for design and display, she was instrumental in organizing the Sheaffer Pen Museum. Gertie was very committed and proud of the beauty of Fort Madison, the river town she grew to love. There was nothing more beautiful to her than a colorful sunset or a full moon over a river, a lake, or an ocean. She was a faithful member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Fort Madison, Christ Episcopal Church in Burlington, Iowa, and later St. John’s Episcopal church in Memphis.
Generous hospitality was the heart of Gertie and she especially enjoyed opening her home during the holiday season. She was known by many for hosting a Christmas open house where friends and family of all ages, both local and those visiting from out of town, where all were graciously welcomed. She also enjoyed adventure and traveled extensively with friends – always making more along the way.
When not in Fort Madison she spent time at their home on the beach in Florida, where family and friends frequently gathered. Known as GiGi to her grandchildren, she loved teaching them about the sea and the creatures who lived there. She enjoyed the beauty of nature and the rhythm of the eternally rolling surf. Three-hour beach walks were not uncommon, and she always returned with her arms full of treasures.
Gertie lived her life filled with positive energy and natural southern charm. She nurtured close friendships that endured throughout her life. She loved to write and dedicated much of her time at her desk composing newsy letters to her children, grandchildren, family, and friends. She never allowed a significant amount of time to pass without thoughtfully written correspondence to loved ones. She always made time for others from all walks of life and lived for family and friends by grace and with love. Gertie will be missed but the example she set will be remembered by all for generations.
A graveside service will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church cemetery in Memphis on Saturday July 10th at 11:00AM. A private reception will follow.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested memorials be sent to the Coffeen Land Trust, 146 Coffeen Hill Road, Four Mile Village, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459 or The Sheaffer Pen Museum, 627 Avenue G, Fort Madison, Iowa 52627.