Frederick Haffelfinger, advocate for disabled

Posted: February 01, 2014

Frederick J. Haffelfinger, 73, of Springfield, Delaware County, a sales representative and advocate for the disabled, died Wednesday, Jan. 15, of cancer at his daughter's home in Glenmoore.

Born in Philadelphia, he lived in Pennsylvania for most of his life, attending St. Gregory's Parish School and St. Thomas More High School, where he graduated in 1958. He went on to attend Drexel University evening school, graduating in 1970 and participating in the service fraternity Cross Keys.

Beginning in 1962, he served in the Air Force Reserve for six years, including six months of active duty at McGuire Air Force Base.

Mr. Haffelfinger devoted much of his life to helping people with disabilities. Among other groups, he was involved with Arc of Delaware County, an organization that provides advocacy resources for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He raised funds, planned special events, and served as director, monitor, and treasurer of the group's financial committee.

He and his wife, Patricia, whom he married in 1967, often volunteered in the Special Olympics in Delaware County. Their son, Donald, who has a type of brain damage, competes in soccer and softball, among other sports, in the games.

"My dad would watch me play and tell me things I should do," his son said. "He gave me pointers, ideas, and suggestions."

Colleen Stewart, who worked with Mr. Haffelfinger on the Arc board, said he was compassionate and funny, and "always had a way to cheer people up." He had brought Stewart on as a board member and she now serves as the president of the Delaware County chapter.

Though Mr. Haffelfinger was diagnosed with cancer in 1991, it did not stop him from keeping busy. For about 20 years and until his death, he worked as a sales representative for the South Carolina-based company McGinnis & Associates. Working out of his office at home, he sold tape, electrical products, and other home needs to hardware stores.

"He was always loyal, a man of high integrity, and he built many close friendships with his customers," said David McGinnis, president and owner of the company. He said Mr. Haffelfinger became more of a close friend than an employee.

"He did what he could for his family and he did what he had to . . . to make sure people like myself got what they needed," Donald Haffelfinger said.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Haffelfinger is survived by a daughter, Stephanie; two grandchildren; nieces and nephews; and a brother.

A funeral was held Thursday, Jan. 23, with burial in Valley Forge Memorial Gardens.


jxie@philly.com

215-854-2771 @julieyinxie

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