Charles Louis Haffner, 85, of Syracuse, passed away Sunday afternoon, May 7, 2023, at Valley View Healthcare Center in Elkhart following a short illness.
He was born July 21, 1937, in Hillsboro, Ohio, to Arlie O. “Bill” and Marjorie E. (Howe) Haffner. On Nov. 21, 1959, he married Ann Ruth Stoeckley in Fort Wayne. She survives in Syracuse.
“Charlie” or “Chuck,” as he was known by friends and family, graduated from Syracuse High School in 1955, attended Wabash College for two years, where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, and graduated from Ball State in 1959 with a degree in secondary education. In 1966 he earned a Master of Arts in Mathematics from Boston College. His professional career included 17 years as a math and science teacher and 16 years as a junior high principal in California and Syracuse, retiring in 1993.
Moving back to Syracuse from California in 1970, he became involved in the community, serving as a member and president of Lakeland Youth Center board of directors, member of the Syracuse Town Council, member and president of St. Martin de Porres Parish Council, and member for 20-plus years of the Kosciusko County Area Plan Commission and Kosciusko County Board of Zoning Appeals.
Charlie joined the Yosemite, Calif., Lions Club in 1969 and transferred to the Syracuse Lions Club in 1970, where he served in many capacities at the club, district and state level over the past 53 years. He is the holder of a Builders Key for sponsoring 10 new Lions Club members. During his District Governor year in 1998-1999, when five new clubs were chartered, District 25-G finished the year plus-193 in membership gain, the highest in all of North and South America and Europe.
For a number of years Charlie, in cooperation with a local printer, delivered misprint and overrun napkins and cups to area day care centers, 53 school cafeterias in 15 school corporations, homeless shelters, churches, day care centers, battered women’s homes and other service agencies. For 17 years he promoted the building and distribution of more than 3,000 wooden used eyeglass collection boxes to be used all over Indiana and neighboring states. Donated wood, courtesy of area cabinet manufacturers, was delivered to several area high school and middle school shops for use in the classroom.
The money for four ambulances to be delivered to Mexico was raised by Charlie through his local church. In 1987, he raised the money to buy a firetruck, ambulance, van, boat and boat trailer for an eyeglass mission to Guatemala in which he participated. He also participated in two eyeglass missions to Mexico and one to Romania.
As an Indiana Lions Foundation trustee, Charlie was instrumental in the foundation’s successful establishment of “Operation Kidsight,” a preschool eye-screening program in Indiana, and served as program director until it was taken over by the Indiana Lions Eye Bank Inc. He served five years as State Sight Conservation Committee chairperson and produced 250 White Cane Day Collection canisters and kits for distribution around the state to enable Lions clubs to fund their sight conservation projects.
Charlie was a frequent presenter at state and district leadership development events and developed many programs and ideas for use with clubs to increase membership and enthusiasm in the various programs of Lions Clubs International. He and his wife, Ann, attended many district, state and international conventions and forums and hosted 3 Lions Youth Exchange students in their home.
For his humanitarian service he has been recognized with five Lions International President’s Certificates of Appreciation, an International President’s Leadership Medal, an International Presidential Medal, the Indiana Distinguished Lion Award, a Progressive Melvin Jones Fellowship, Indiana Lions Foundation W.P. Woods Fellowship, and the Kosciusko County Community Foundation Heart of Gold Award.
Charlie was preceded in death by his parents; an infant brother, Harold Gene; his brother-in-law, Robert Hatheway; and Ann’s parents, Richard and Ruth Stoeckley.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Ann; twin sister, Charlotte Hatheway, of Tullahoma, Tenn.; son, John (Shelley) Haffner, Leesburg; daughter, Jane (Arnold) White, Toccoa, Ga.; daughter, Mary (William) Stewart, Charlotte, N.C.; grandchildren, Rob (Katie) Tieman, Ryan (Amber) Tieman, Carly (Adam) Speicher, Jared Haffner, Jackson and Finn Stewart, Rachel and Anna White; great-grandchildren, Peyton, Jack, Charlie and Sam Tieman and Kay and Charlie Speicher; brother-in-law, John (Karen) Stoeckley; and many nieces and nephews.
Visitation for Charlie will be held at Titus Funeral Home – Owen Chapel in Syracuse from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, June 17, with a memorial service at 4 p.m. officiated by Lion the Rev. Leroy Wise. A private burial will be at McClintic Cemetery in Syracuse at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be given to the Syracuse Lions Club, 6537 E. Waco Drive, Syracuse, IN 46567 or to the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, 1013 N. Long Drive, Syracuse, IN 46567.