Dr. John's Story
Mike Gaffney (frequently confusingly also known as John; JM; Jim, etc.) passed away on August 11th, 2017 at the age of 67, after a long fight against leukemia and subsequent stem cell transplant complications.
Mike was born in Troy, New York on July 23, 1950. He completed his undergraduate degree at Fredonia in New York, and then went on to graduate from Auburn University in Alabama with his Ph.D. in Psychology. He made a 'temporary' move to Knoxville Iowa in 1977 to complete his internship at the Veterans' Hospital, but he then met and married Deb (Rankin) Gaffney and made Knoxville his permanent home. Mike served as a psychologist at the Knoxville Veteran's Hospital for 34 years, until he 'retired' and cut back to part time work until his leukemia diagnosis in April 2016.
Mike enjoyed helping others through both his professional work as a psychologist and his engagement in the community. He served on the local AFGE union, including as President for a short time; helped debrief emergency responders as part of the Red Cross Critical Incident Stress Debriefing team; served on the board of the United Way for many years; contributed to community activities as a member of the Knoxville Recreation Center board; and shared his knowledge and experience with students as an adjunct professor at William Penn College for Working Adults. He never hesitated to pitch in and help, whether it be assisting a new intern with moving in to their home or helping a friend with a laborious project. Everyone always knew they could count on Mike.
Mike worked hard to fill his life with family, friends, laughter, adventure and exercise. A few of his most notable activities include biking across France, participating in RAGBRAI, whitewater rafting, kayaking, cruising around town on a Trikke, and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa at the age of sixty!
Mike was deeply devoted to his family. He will be missed by many, including his wife Deb; son Troy; daughter Morgan, her husband Sam, and their son Lincoln who absolutely adored his Papa Mike! Mike was also especially close to his sisters Ann Devine, Elizabeth Gaffney, and their families. He was preceded in death by his parents Jack and Jeanne Gaffney.
Mike was a bit of an irreverent man, he wasn't afraid to speak his mind or go against the grain. He often spoke about his goal of cultivating his reputation as a 'character.' For those who knew him, we can all agree that he succeeded in that endeavor. He made a positive impact on so many, and was taken from us all too soon. Up until the very end, his primary concern was taking care of others. Mike asked that people remember him by engaging in unexpected and unsolicited acts of kindness whenever possible.
Visitation with the family will be held at the Winfield Funeral Home in Knoxville, Iowa on Friday August 18th from 5 to 8 pm. A celebration of life will follow at the Peace Tree Root Cellar for those who would like to raise a glass to Mike.
Published on August 16, 2017