Virginia  Schafer


Virginia "Ginny" Schafer, 72, formerly of Traverse City, passed away at her home in Tennessee Colony, Texas, on Oct. 15, 2018.
Ginny, the eldest of the Winkler children, was born Aug. 8, 1946 to Norbert and Florence Winkler of Lansing. Her parents had three more children before Florence passed away in 1953. The family later moved to Grand Rapids.
Norbert became married to Janet Hazel, of Lake Odessa, who raised Ginny and the younger siblings as her own. The family relocated to Traverse City, where the Winkler family added five more children.
Ginny attended St. Francis grade school and enjoyed what the area had to offer, including free swimming lessons at Elmwood Park off the break wall, skating lessons at F & M Park, sledding and tobogganing near Kids Creek, fishing derbies, canoeing and fishing with bamboo poles, and riding bikes around the neighborhood. She also was a Girl Scout from grade school on up through high school.
Ginny exhibited a strong work ethic beginning in her early childhood. She helped weed the family strawberry patch and harvested the fruit for sale. Ginny performed weekend chores, helped care for her siblings, improved properties purchased by the family by hauling brush, moving rocks, picking up glass and doing many other tasks. There was always a reward at the end, which was a trip to the store for an ice cold soda and a hearty thank-you from Dad.
While attending St. Francis High School she was involved in many activities, including Pep Club, playing in the band, receiving honorable mention in biology at the science fair and being a member of the National Honor Society. Ginny worked as a lifeguard at Clinch and Bryant parks in the summers and at the Park Place Inn pool in the winter. Upon graduation in 1964, Ginny attended Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) that fall.
Ginny spent time traveling west to Colorado and then to Florida before returning home to Michigan, where she set up residence in Interlochen.
She married Harry "Duey" Schafer in 1969, gave birth to her son, Eric, in 1971 and was the owner of Long Lake Inn.
After divorcing and becoming a single parent in 1973, she worked her way through college as an EMT with the Grand Traverse Ambulance Service. Ginny eventually earned an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) from NMC in 1980.
Ginny and Eric moved to the Detroit area, where she worked as a nurse and pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) from Wayne State University.
After completing her BSN in 1983 Ginny and Eric returned to Traverse City until Ginny decided to pursue her lifelong dream of serving in the U.S. Army. She went to Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia, and earned her commission in 1985. She served three years as an Army nurse stationed at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) on Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. She was honorably discharged as a 1st Lieutenant in 1988.
In 2000 Ginny earned a Master of Science degree in Nursing (MSN), Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids.
Ginny dedicated her life to caring for others as a nurse for almost 40 years. For the last 18 years Ginny served as a nurse practitioner.
From 1980 to 2001, Ginny worked in the intensive care unit (ICU), coronary care unit (CCU), cardiac-thoracic unit (CTU), Neuroscience intensive care unit (NSICU), medical intensive care unit (MICU), surgical intensive care unit (SICU), in hospice care, and chronic pain clinics as a registered nurse (RN) in Traverse City, Detroit, San Antonio, Texas, and Pasadena, Texas.
From 2001 to 2005, Ginny was employed by Correctional Medical Services at the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) in Saginaw. Her duties included treating the acute and chronic medical problems of male prison inmates.
From 2005 to 2007, Ginny worked for the Veteran's Administration (VA) in Tyler, Texas, providing acute and chronic care for Texas veterans.
From 2007 to 2018, she cared for patients of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) at the Michael Unit near her home in Tennessee Colony, Texas, for 11 years before retiring in August of 2018.
Throughout her life, Ginny enjoyed caring for animals, having a large dog or two, and a couple of birds. Once putting down permanent roots and having a big yard, Ginny accommodated more dogs and added cats to the family. They were her favorite topic of conversation, and she could talk for hours about her "babies." She was very attached to her fur and feather family.
Ginny had many interests and hobbies; her mother, Janet, taught her and her sisters how to sew, and she made her own clothes. She also took up quilting, knitting and crocheting and made beautiful stained glass pieces and ceramics. Ginny was a stamp collector and an excellent bridge player. She enjoyed shooting and collecting guns. Ginny loved other outdoor activities and sports such as gardening, camping, downhill skiing, river rafting, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, golfing and riding her motorcycle across North America.
Ginny was very generous. She opened her home to family and co-workers who needed a place to stay and assisted family and friends financially as well. Family was very important to her. She traveled extensively and often to be with family and crafted many beautiful gifts for each member. Ginny was a treasure and will be greatly missed.
Ginny is survived by her son, Eric Schafer, his wife, April, and their children, Gabriel and Emily, of Hewitt, Texas; her brothers and sisters, Cynthia Bates, of Summertown, Tennessee, Stephen Winkler, of Traverse City, Deborah Winkler, of Marquette, Dr. Michael (Cathy) Winkler, of Traverse City, Jane Winkler, of Traverse City, Mark Winkler, of Dallas, Texas, Ann (Mark) Pytell, of Clinton Township, and Jeffrey (Janine) Winkler, of Traverse City; aunts and uncles, Marjorie (Larry) Wichern, of Cedar, Mary Franklin, of Interlochen, Wayne (Gaye) Hazel, of Lake Odessa, Ruth Bergdoll, of Traverse City, Shirley (Harlan) Winkler and Shirley (Donald) Winkler, of Lancaster, Wisconsin, and Patricia Davenport, of Jackson, Mississippi; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Ginny was preceded in death by her parents, Norbert and Janet; and her nephew, Curtis Pytell.
The service celebrating Ginny's life will be held on Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m., at the Golden Fellowship Hall, 9700 Riley Road, Interlochen, MI, 49643.
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Published on July 10, 2019
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