Donald “Don” Francis Raftis, 85, left this world peacefully on June 24, 2017, surrounded by his family. He 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. In 1950, Don deployed with the US Army to Korea. After his service he returned to Gonzaga University and graduated in 1955, with a degree in Business Administration. Soon after, Don met a beautiful Italian girl, Darlene Risse, in Seattle on a blind date, but love would have to wait. He 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 in 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 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 children and grandchildren. 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 www.ccsww.org, St. Stephen Housing Association www.ststephenhousing.org, or Priests for Life www.priestsforlife.org.