Lisa Schaffner, former 8News anchor and Marketing Director at UNOS, dies at 59

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Lisa Schaffner’s former colleagues at WRIC 8News remember the day she anchored the evening broadcast from the garage.

It was 2003 and Hurricane Isabel was dumping water on the region. The news station didn’t have a generator at the time so, with one camera, one microphone and a couple of stools, Mrs. Schaffner and her colleagues shared the news. Rain, nor lack of electronics, could stop the show.

Her tenacity, smile and kind spirit were top of mind as people learned of her untimely death. Mrs. Schaffner died Thursday, according to multiple sources. She was 59 years old.

During her 22-year career with WRIC 8News, Mrs. Schaffner was recognized by the community for her trusted journalism and compassion. She started with the broadcast station as a general assignment reporter in 1986 and became the weekend anchor in 1988. She came to WRIC from WBAY in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and was a graduate of Ohio University.

In Richmond, she went on to anchor the evening broadcasts at WRIC from 1990 until she left the news business in 2008 to spend more time with her family.

She told the Richmond Times-Dispatch at the time, “My daughter is entering high school, my son is entering middle school. I work very long hours, and it’s very unforgiving. They were born into this; they did not have a choice. They want me home, and I want to be home at night. I’m thrilled. They’re thrilled. It’s all about family.”

Juan Conde, Lisa Shaffner and John Bernier covering Hurricane Isabel
(Left to Richmond) Juan Conde, Lisa Shaffner and John Bernier covering Hurricane Isabel from WRIC’s garage in 2003. The station did not have power or a generator, but they still reported the news. (Screengrab from an archive video)

Through her career at 8News, Mrs. Schaffner became the public face for WRIC and earned fans and praise throughout the region.

“Lisa was a consummate professional dedicated to uplifting our community,” said Juan Conde, 8News anchor and former colleague. “She was a peerless partner and guide to me. My condolences to her surviving family and fans. We’ll all miss her deeply. She was a great teacher to people who came through the newsroom. There wasn’t anybody who didn’t learn something from her.”

Lisa Schaffner and Juan Conde from WRIC 8News
Lisa Schaffner and Juan Conde (Screengrab from an archive video)

Mrs. Schaffner was well-known in the Richmond community not only for her time behind the anchor desk at 8News but also for her tenure at UNOS as the Director of Marketing and Public Relations.

“Lisa was the first person I met when I came to work at UNOS. Her enthusiasm for saving lives through organ donation was contagious,” said Brian Shepard, CEO of United Network for Organ Sharing. “She loved the people she worked with and the people she met. It seems like every day she would have a new story that started, ‘I just met the most interesting person…’, because she’d encountered a stranger and made them a friend for life. The work she did to share the mission of organ donation literally saved people’s lives. I can’t tell you how much UNOS will miss her.”

She left UNOS in 2021 to become the Vice President of Marketing, Business Development and Sales at Cranemasters, according to LinkedIn.

Mrs. Schaffner was also a contributor to Boomer Magazine from 2014-2020 where she shared stories about local nonprofit organizations and their work in the community.

Lisa Schaffner and 8News Meteorologist Matt DiNardo co-hosting Cure by Design for the American Cancer Society in 2012
Lisa Schaffner and 8News Meteorologist Matt DiNardo co-hosting Cure by Design for the American Cancer Society in 2012. (Photo provided by Matt DiNardo)

Many Richmonders knew her as a presenter and host of local charity events. With a bright personality and keen sense of timing, she was an emcee who could keep large crowds of people laughing and engaged.

“Lisa was a leader. She was dedicated. She was hard-working,” said John Bernier, Chief Meteorologist at WRIC and a former colleague. “But she was also extremely personable to everyone. It was almost like everyone she met was a friend.”

In 2013, Mrs. Schaffner received the Woman on the Move award from the Central Virginia MS Society. In 2014, she received the Robert Gallimore Distinguished Service Award from the Virginia Association of Press Broadcasters. The award is given for “outstanding service in the public interest.”

Lisa Schaffner at Henrico Doctor's Hospital
Lisa Schaffner at Henrico Doctor’s Hospital in the early 2000s promoting the March of Dimes Walk America event. (Screengrab from an archive video)

“Lisa was one of the first anchors in the market starting in the mid-1990s to partner with major non-profits to help raise their awareness and fundraiser levels,” said Carl Archacki, a Sr. Account Executive at 8News who worked with Mrs. Schaffner. “From the March of Dimes to United Methodist Family Services, to the annual Jerry Lewis Telethon, to her devotion to UNOS, and so many more, Lisa put a face on real need in our community. Her presence, smile and warmth helped make Richmond a better place to live. My heart aches to hear of her passing.” 

Earlier this year Mrs. Schaffner married Tyrone Ashman at a May wedding at Whispering Pine Plantation in Amelia. She is survived by her husband and two children from a previous marriage.

Funeral arrangements are unavailable at this time.

Lisa Schaffner
Lisa Schaffner (Photo provided by Kim Brundage Photography)

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