Business & Professional
Dr. Robert M. Hafner
Dr. R.M. Hafner was a civic force of nature who devoted the last half of a remarkable business career to helping people and businesses in Huntington County prosper and grow.
Hafner — everyone called him “Doc”— did not have banking in mind when he embarked on his veterinary studies at what is now Michigan State University following World War II. He had grown up on a family farm in DeKalb County and, after graduating from Spencerville High School, entered the Army soon after the war began. He was a pilot in the Army Air Corps who eagerly returned to his civilian studies in 1946.
After graduation, Hafner was briefly part of a large-animal veterinary practice in Woodburn before hanging out his vet’s shingle in Huntington in 1950. Over the course of the next 20 years, he became increasingly involved in civic life and was invited to join the board of directors of Community State Bank. That opened the door to a second career. He was elected chairman of the board and bank president in 1971. He continued to do veterinary work until 1976, when he retired from practice to become a full-time banker.
In a remarkably influential 15 years of leadership in the financial sector, Hafner provided guidance, counsel, and financial support for an array of local businesses from large corporations to individual entrepreneurs. He was a formative force with the Lime City Economic Development Corporation, Huntington County United Development Corporation, and the LaFontaine Center. He was a staunch and active supporter of Huntington University, the United Way, the Boy Scouts, the Quayle Commemorative Committee, Huntington Memorial Hospital, and Trinity United Methodist Church. He also was active in veterinary associations at the state and national levels.
Plain-spoken and gregarious, Doc Hafner was a mentor to many, a critic to some, and a confidante to a generation of Huntington County leaders. He was active with his college alma mater, and joined the Lincoln National Corporation board of directors when Lincoln purchased Community State. Honors that came his way included a Sagamore of the Wabash from the state of Indiana and Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe from the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce.
“Huntington has lost a loyal friend,” said Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Hancher when Hafner died in June 1991. “Nobody cared more for this community than Doc.”