“We’re taking it day by day”: Lisa Schaffner’s family reveals the former 8News anchor’s cause of death, shares how they #LiveLikeLisa

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The sudden death of former 8News anchor and community advocate Lisa Schaffner shocked RVA and left many searching for answers. She was highly personable and a community advocate who was dedicated to charitable causes, and her work impacted many in the community.

Today, Schaffner’s family is sharing what led to the death of the dynamic, spirited and well-respected journalist. She was 59 years old and had appeared to be in good health when she died on August 19.

Schaffner’s daughter, Dani Powell, and son, Jesse Powell, admit it’s been hard not having their loving and vibrant mom around.

“We’re taking it day by day,” Dani said.

The Thanksgiving holiday was especially difficult for the family.

“It’s the first holidays without her, so it definitely hurts to have an empty placemat at the table,” Jesse said.

Lisa Schaffner from her time working at WRIC 8News
Lisa Schaffner from her time working at WRIC 8News. (Screengrab from an archive video)

In a statement shared with 8News the family said, “While we are still grieving and processing the loss of our mother and Ty’s wife, we recognize the desire for answers from the larger community regarding her cause of death.”

The autopsy report lists Schaffner’s cause of death as “Acute bacterial pyelonephritis.” That is a kidney infection stemming from the complication of a urinary tract infection.

We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support since our mother, Lisa Schaffner’s, untimely passing in August – we sincerely thank everyone who has reached out. Lisa was a bright light in our community and prided herself on helping those in need whenever possible – we are honored and uplifted to see this support reciprocated in the wake of her passing.  While we are still grieving and processing the loss of our mother and Ty’s wife, we recognize the desire for answers from the larger community regarding her cause of death. Our family has decided to share the findings from Lisa’s autopsy report in hope of providing answers to those she positively impacted throughout her life. The report states Acute bacterial pyelonephritis with abscess formation as Lisa’s cause of death. The family kindly requests privacy during this difficult time.

Statement from Lisa Schaffner’s family

“She had been feeling fine up until about four or five days prior to her passing,” Dani said.

Schaffner had told her husband she felt a little tired and suspected it was COVID-19. Dani said her mother had multiple coronavirus tests done and every test came back negative. Two days after she learned that it wasn’t COVID, she was dead.

“Of course, the autopsy confirmed not COVID,” Dani said.

Knowing the cause of death offers some closure, but Schaffner’s absence doesn’t disappear.

“We were only married three months, but we were together 20 months, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Ty Ashman, Schaffner’s husband. “Lisa showed me so much in just a short amount of time. She always saw the good in everybody.”

Ashman told 8News he has learned to live with the hurt, but he and the children know Schaffner would want them to go on and continue to live a happy life.

“You know, I had three wonderful children until I met Lisa and I got five. I finally got a son,” he said.

During Schaffner’s funeral, her daughter mentioned a trending hashtag, #LiveLikeLisa. We asked the family how they are now taking up the mantle and living like Lisa.

“Our mom had a huge impact on the community,” Dani said. “Since we were children, she instilled in Jesse and I to try to consider others and how we can give back.”

Now, they’ve started a foundation called #LiveLikeLisaRVA to help everyone do just that.

Lisa Schaffner from WRIC 8News
Lisa Schaffner from WRIC 8News. (Screengrab from an archive video)
Lisa Schaffner at Henrico Doctor's Hospital
Lisa Schaffner at Henrico Doctor’s Hospital in the early 2000s promoting the March of Dimes telethon. (Screengrab from an archive video)

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