Aug. 6, 1921 - Dec. 1, 2006

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I can’t wait to get up to heaven and play in the band there. I’ll pick up my saxophone and I’m going to have a grand time.”

Frank "Buck" Shaffer, interviewed by Esther Avila,  March 1, 2006

Frank ‘Buck' Shaffer dies

Porterville's musical icon, Frank “Buck” Shaffer” died Friday evening at Porterville Convalescent Hospital. His wife Peggy, son Bill, and a couple of close friends were at his side. He was 85.

“My dad passed away peacefully around 7:10 p.m. Although I'm very sad by his passing, I'm thankful for the great life that he provided to our family as a father,” Mr. Shaffer's son, Skip Shaffer said. “I've played with many great band leaders and studied with some of the best music teachers in the country but he will always be number one for me.”

Buck Shaffer, the Porterville Panther Band's former band director, suffered a massive stroke on Oct. 22 and had been hospitalized since - his health deteriorating in the last couple of days.

Born Aug. 6 in Adamsville, West Virginia, Shaffer moved to Porterville in 1953 to take a position as the Porterville High School band director.
Mr. Shaffer's Porterville Panther Band was one of the first bands in California to appear on television.

Under his tenure, the band also performed at the Squaw Valley Winter Olympics in 1960, the Seattle World's Fair, five Rose Parades, played the first holiday season parade in Disneyland in 1955 and every year annually for 32 years, represented California in New York, Washington, Boston and Philadelphia during America's bicentennial celebration. He took his band on another similar trip in 1984 and again in 1990, when the band played at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Mr. Shaffer, the 2006 Porterville Recorder Spirit of Freedom recipient, was also the founder of the Fabulous Studio Band, Porterville's City of Hope Spectacular and the Buck Shaffer Band-A-Rama. In 1997, Shaffer was honored by having the theater inside the Porterville Memorial Auditorium dedicated as the Frank “Buck” Shaffer Theater and an exhibit at the Porterville Historical Museum focuses on Shaffer and his Porterville Panther Band.

Just prior to his stroke, Mr. Shaffer was planning a concert in his hometown of Shinnston, W.VA.

During a previous interview on March 1, Mr. Shaffer said, “I'm getting tired and someday I'm going to be gone. I know the first thing I want to do once I'm not here. I can't wait to get up to heaven and play in the band there. I'll pick up my saxophone and I'm going to have a grand time.”

By Esther Avila, for the Porterville Recorder on Dec. 2, 2006


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