New Richmond:
(715) 243-5252  |  
River Falls:
(715) 425-8788

Katie Chaffee 11/05/2023

Katie Lynn Chaffee died peacefully at her home with her family on November 5, 2023.

She was born March 1, 1948 in Madison, Wisconsin, the first child of Lyda (Molle) and Paul Haskins. The family moved to River Falls in 1953 and Katie graduated from River Falls High School in 1965. She spent one year at St. Catherine University before transferring to the University of Wisconsin Madison to study History. She enjoyed learning all of her life.

Katie married Kirk Chaffee on August 24, 1967. After spending several years in Madison, Wisconsin, they returned with their daughters Josephine and Anna to River Falls in 1980. Their son, Luke, was born a year later. Katie was interested in many things and fulfilled a variety of professional roles. She worked as a typesetter and staff writer at the River Falls Journal. She was also a bus driver for the River Falls School District. Over the years, Katie worked for many local businesses, such as The Bookpress, WE Market Co-op, and Turningpoint’s Second Chances. While she enjoyed these positions, she was most passionate about her work for the River Falls Public Library. She designed and hosted community shows and events in the Library’s gallery. This work was a perfect fit, as it allowed her to put her knowledge of history, connections to the community, and creative talents to use.

In addition to her working life, Katie was a dedicated community member and committed volunteer. She served on many committees and boards and political organizations, such as the City of River Falls Plan Commission, River Falls Community Garden, Local Food Partnership, Rise Up, and the Library Foundation. Katie was elected as the first female mayor of River Falls in 2000. She cherished her role as “Grandma Katie” at Rocky Branch Elementary, caring for 4th grade students and maintaining order in the classroom.

Katie was so very proud of her children and grandchildren, who brought her much joy. Her grandchildren will always remember the “Grandma lunches” she lovingly prepared for them. Katie had a delightful sense of humor and served as her family’s dictionary and encyclopedia. She was kind, smart, and hard-working. The common thread in her life was to spend her time and talents on things that would make the world a better place for others, now and in the future.

She was preceded in death by Kirk Chaffee, her husband of many years, and her father, Paul Haskins. Katie is survived by her mother, Lyda (Molle) Haskins; siblings Jennifer (Ron) Nelson, Lisa (Bruce) Waccholz, Jody (Jon) O’Grady, Shelly (Jon) Mueller, Alison (David) Page, Kevin (Cindy) Haskins, Gina Haskins, and Paul (Sally) Haskins; children Josephine (Chaffee) Baumann, of St, Paul, MN, and Anna (Joe) Zalusky and Luke (Andrea) Chaffee of River Falls; and seven beautiful and beloved grandchildren.

A Celebration of Katie’s Life was held on Saturday, November 18, 2023 from 3-7 p.m. at Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services, 805 E Division St, River Falls, WI.

Memorials preferred to the family or to the River Falls Public Library Foundation.


  • Linda Jacobson Posted November 6, 2023 6:03 pm

    My heart goes out to the family. Katie was such a vital part of so many aspects of this community. She will be missed greatly.

  • Tanya Mravik Posted November 6, 2023 8:00 pm

    Katie was such a joy to work/volunteer with at the River Falls Public Library. She will be missed!

  • Callie Trautmiller Posted November 7, 2023 8:01 am

    It was an honor knowing Katie. She was such a warm and giving person and contributed greatly to our community.

  • Alyce Jacobs Posted November 7, 2023 9:53 am

    I had the pleasure of only recently meeting Katie. She was so well spoken and knowledgeable and easy to be with. I’ve only heard praises for her work and involvements through the years. She will be a greatly missed treasure to many.

  • Tanya Misselt Posted November 7, 2023 10:55 am

    I am so sorry for the loss of Katie. She had an indomitable spirit of kindness and commitment to community service.

  • Kay Montgomery Posted November 7, 2023 11:06 am

    What an honor it was to be able to work with Katie on the River Falls Library Foundation Board over several decades. Creative, honest, dedicated, delightful sense of humor – just a few of the words I will use to remember Katie. I already miss her smile and her presence at the Board table. Peace, Katie, to you and to your family.

  • Amanda Huppert Posted November 7, 2023 11:36 am

    My deepest condolences to Katie’s family. She was a pillar of our community, she left a legacy in her family and community that will live on for many years to come.

  • Susan Harden Posted November 7, 2023 1:43 pm

    Our sincere condolences to Katie’s family. She was a marvel and will be greatly missed. I remember calling around the neighborhood for her lost cat! Such a wonderful woman, mentor and role model for so many.

  • Robin E Murray Posted November 7, 2023 2:06 pm

    My condolences to all of Katie’s family. She made me feel so welcomed into the River Falls Community when I first moved here. Her “can do” spirit will be missed.

  • Richard L Timmerman Posted November 9, 2023 4:09 pm

    Katie and I had a really good relationship that was blended by what both of us brought to the table–which in her case, was a very large dining table in the breadth of life. Hail to our first woman mayor in RF, but more than that, hail to this wonderful person.

  • Roger & Verna Tweiten Posted November 18, 2023 5:49 pm

    One of my first students when I started teaching here in 1963 she was so sincere and dedicated I knew she would succeed and I was not wrong so proud of who she was

  • Guy marske Posted December 29, 2023 10:09 pm

    She was a wonderful and genuine person .

  • Guy marske Posted December 29, 2023 10:12 pm

    She was a wonderful and genuine person.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *