FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Cliff Chaffee, co-founder of BRC Rubber & Plastics Inc., died Oct. 30 at the age of 74.
Cliff and his brother, Charles Chaffee, founded Bluffton Rubber Co. in 1973 in Bluffton, Ind. The brothers had grown up in the rubber industry, as their father had started and owned Ligonier Rubber Co. Cliff often slept overnight on a cot in the factory to make sure the presses were running and orders filled, according to information from the company.
Cliff Chaffee graduated from college as a mechanical engineer and worked as an engineer at Ford Motor Co. from 1970-76, while working weekends and holidays at Bluffton Rubber. He quit Ford to work full time at Bluffton Rubber, which later was renamed BRC Rubber & Plastics to better describe the firm's full capabilities.
"Cliff's valued leadership helped to develop and guide BRC into becoming an OEM supplier with many valuable customers," BRC said in a statement.
BRC continues to be a privately held company with three generations of the family currently employed, with about 600 employees overall.
Charles Chaffee is CEO, while Cliff Chaffee served as executive vice president. He remained active in the company in Fort Wayne in the warmer months, while keeping in touch by phone and email in the colder months.
"Cliff loved working with the BRC team and he loved to travel and see new places," BRC said. "He will be greatly missed by the Chaffee family and his BRC family.
"Cliff lived an authentic life in his words and actions. His loves were fishing, traveling, watching auto races and appreciating a beautiful view, especially sunsets. His wit and sarcasm were unmatched, and will be missed by all who were lucky enough to know him."
He was proceeded in death by his parents Clyde and Helen Chaffee, and aunt Wilma (Richard) Parker. Besides his brother, he is survived by Chuck Chaffee's wife, Karen, four nephews and their spouses, and 13 great-nephews and nieces.