Master Model Railroader

Congratulations to Gary Shaffer
on becoming Division 5’s
2nd NMRA Master Model Railroader!

Gary was presented with his Master Model Railroader certificate and plaque at the August 2007, Division 5 meeting.

Gary achieved his MMR status by earning the following Achievement Program certificates.

  • Model Railroad Chief Dispatcher
  • Model Railroad Engineer – Electrical
  • Model Railroad Engineer – Civil
  • Associate Volunteer
  • Master Builder – Cars
  • Master Builder – Motive Power
  • Master Builder – Structures

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NMRA Achievement program

Article below is from NMRA BULLETIN 08/2007

Gary Shaffer Earns MMR #393

Like many other railroaders, I received my first train set from Santa Claus when I was three years old in 1948. Every year after that, Santa always left something for my trains. In 1950 my parents moved from Youngstown, Ohio, to a farm in Rock Creek, Ohio. The farmhouse had two bedrooms on the main level and three empty rooms upstairs. My dad built a 4x8-foot table for my trains and got me started with my first layout.

In the early summer of that year, my mother had gone shopping in Ashtabula, Ohio, and that afternoon when I came home from school, she told me that she had seen the smallest and nicest little train set at the Five & Dime store, and that she would take me there that weekend. That Saturday morning we went to town and there in the toy department was a Varney Little Joe train set (Wow!) for only $29.95. But I only had $5 in my pocket; I was $25 short. The nice lady behind the counter said that I could lay it away and make weekly payments on it. Boy, she was nice! It seemed like a lifetime for me to pay it off, but I did. I still have the complete set in the box today!

I graduated from high school in 1964 and went on to Ashtabula Tech that year for Machinist. In 1965, I met my wife, Connie, and we were married in 1966. Three months later I enlisted in the Air Force for four years. We have three sons, who are all interested in model railroading. In 1970, I went to work for Ashtabula’s wastewater treatment plant. I retired from there in 1997 as Industrial Pretreatment Director.

In 1999, my wife passed away from cancer. Her aunt had previously introduced me to the lady who became my present wife, Rosemary. Rosemary’s husband had also died of cancer, and he was also a model railroader, which I didn’t know at the time. We all lived near each other, too. Today, Rosemary and I enjoy model railroading, antiquing, traveling, and gardening together. We set our yearly vacations around the NMRA’s national conventions and the PRR conventions. I belong to a loose-knit “Round Robin” group of 12 members that meet every Tuesday evening to run trains and eat the baked goods our wives provide. We also attend many model railroad shows, and go out to dinner together throughout the year.

I model the PY&A Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which runs from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Youngstown and Ashtabula, Ohio. It’s mainly a coal and ore hauling line. The layout takes up a space of 22x50 feet in my basement. It has all hand-laid track and scratch-built switches. I enjoy scratch-building and kit-bashing structures as well as assembling resin kits. I have given many clinics on many different railroad subjects at Division meetings and Regional conventions throughout the years and plan to continue in the future.

Gary has earned AP Certificates for

Master Builder–Motive Power
Master Builder–Cars
Master Builder–Structures
Model Railroad Engineer–Civil
Model Railroad Engineer–Electrical,
Chief Dispatcher
Association Volunteer