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Donald Raftis
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Obituary for Donald Raftis

Donald “Don” Francis Raftis, 85, left this world peacefully on June 24, 2017, surrounded by his family. Don was born in Chewelah, WA, on July 30, 1931, to May (McDonald) and Francis “Darby” Raftis. He grew up in Spokane and Tacoma with his sister Joan and brother Jerry. During Don’s freshman year of college at Gonzaga University, in 1950, he served 18 months with the US Army in Korea during the War. Don graduated from Gonzaga in 1955, with a degree in Business Administration. In 1956 Don met a beautiful Italian girl, Darlene Risse, in Seattle, on a blind date. Don was smitten, but went to California to work for Douglas Aircraft and various other jobs. After a successful Christmas tree sales season 3 years later, Don came back to Seattle to visit and was surprised to find Dar still single. In 1959, Don married the love of his life, and they started their 58 year journey together.
Don and Dar started the Raftis family in Tacoma with the arrival of Mark. Don thought Mark needed a playmate, so without much delay along came Maryann. Again and again Don lobbied for a playmate. David, Paul, Gina, and Colleen followed one after the other until Dar said, “No more playmates!” Don loved his six children and worked tirelessly to provide the best for them. He was a very supportive, funny, loving, kind, and patient father.
Don and Darlene moved to Kent, WA, in 1963 where Don started a new venture, the restaurant business. He began with the Burger Ranch in 1963, and opened the landmark Golden Steer in 1964, which he owned and operated for 37 years. He also owned and operated the Bum Steer, now Paolo’s, for 20 years. The whole family grew up in the business. Don was immensely proud of his Irish heritage, and his St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the Golden Steer were legendary. The business provided employment and great memories to everyone who worked for Don and Dar.
Don was an exceptionally giving person. He was involved with numerous organizations including; St. Stephen’s the Martyr Church, Kiwanis, Kent Chamber of Commerce, Drinking and Driving Task Force, Juvenile Court Conference Committee, Catholic Community Services, and Washington Hospitality Industry. In addition, at age 48, he ran the original Greek Marathon, raising money for Home Health Care Agency. Along with raising their six children Don and Dar also provided foster care for many children.
Don loved tennis; he continued to play until just a few years ago and passed the love of tennis on to several of his kids and grandkids. He was one of a kind, with a heart of gold. He is loved by many, who will miss his sense of humor and gentle ways.
Don is preceded in death by his mother and father, May and Darby, sister Joan DeGrazia, and brother Jerry Raftis. He is survived by his wife, Darlene Raftis, his children; Mark, Maryann Thorp (Jim), David (Louisa), Paul (Lisa), Gina Myrick (Charlie) and Colleen (Sonja). Don is also survived by 10 grandchildren and 1 great grandson.
Funeral mass will be held at 11:00 on Friday, July 14, 2017, at St. Stephen the Martyr in Renton, WA, with a reception following. In lieu of flowers please consider donating to Catholic Community Services, St. Stephen’s Housing Association, or Priests for Life

Previous Events

Funeral Service




11:00 AM
St. Stephen the Martyr Catholic Church

13055 S.E. 192nd Street
Renton, WA 98058


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