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Robert and Sandra Rafos

Robert Roland Rafos

July 6, 1935 – March 9, 2018

Sandra Lynne Rafos

Feb. 8, 1936 – Nov. 13, 2023


Robert Roland Rafos passed away peacefully at his Toronto home with his daughters by his side.  He is survived by his wife Sandra Lynne of 60 years and his beloved sister Marjorie Rafos of Stow, OH and his three daughters “angels” Kimberly Ann Sirrine (Michael), Robin Christine Roy (Jay) and Sharon Lynn Rafos (partner Helen). Four grandchildren, Eric Sirrine (Brittany), Douglas Sirrine (Julia), Justin Roy, Emma Roy; and two great grandchildren Killian Sirrine and Anne Sirrine, and special friend Dolly Munroe.


Robert will be remembered as a loving husband, father, brother, grandfather, great grandfather and loyal friend to many. He cherished the time he shared with his family and continually supported their dreams and passions.


Robert was born in Brooklyn, NY.  He received his undergraduate degree from the College of Wooster in Ohio in 1957 and his PhD in Chemistry from Michigan State University in 1961.


He enjoyed three careers before “retiring” at which time he became an active volunteer serving on boards and advising many charitable organizations that were close to his heart.  From 1961 to 1970, he worked with the Standard Oil Company of Ohio as a senior research fellow.  From 1970 to 1989 he worked with the Institute of Cultural Affairs, a private NGO, in various financial and administrative roles while serving in Kenya, Nigeria, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Chicago and Toronto. In 1989 he helped to found Northwater Capital Management Inc. and retired as a Managing Director in 2003.


Robert will be remembered for his generosity and care for others. He served on numerous boards as an advisor and mentor to organizations that were near and dear to his heart.  He was especially committed to Save the Children, Canada; Northwater Capital Foundation and Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation.


In Robert’s words – “Put whatever you want in an obituary, most importantly how I loved and respected my family, and what a wonderful group of friends and colleagues I have been surrounded with all my life.”



My sisters and I are planning our Father’s Memorial Celebration. The celebration will be in true Robert fashion.  In his words  “I want this to be a tribute and thank you for all the people that have been in my life. If possible I would like to have a celebration of my completed life organized at our Neighborhood Congregation. Invite the Congregation, my neighbors, all my ICA friends, my extended Northwater Capital family, my brokers, men’s group and Sandra’s women friends. I would like it be catered, with good and ample food: like oysters, shrimp, sliders, canapes, cheeses, sliced beef, etc.  Wine and beer, music, and jokes and stories over a life well lived and in appreciation for each other for helping me on my journey.”

In love and kindness,

          ~~  Sharon on behalf of Kim, Robin and Sandra



Memories of Robert from the Memorial Service




I was a part of the Cleveland region and joined the Order a year after the Rafos’s so our journey together has been long and deep.  When they came to Tokyo, Robert, Sandy and I all became 50 years old in the same year.  We planned a “Fifty Hour Birthday Party” for Robert.  We brainstormed all of his favorite things and included them in the 50 hours.  The whole staff went for a weekend to an Onsen (hot springs inn) near Mount Fuji.  We did skits about his life.  The party ended at a neighborhood McDonald’s (he loved McDonald’s) where we had reserved the children’s party room.  As you can imagine we got many strange looks from the locals.  It was a fabulous celebration of a wonderful man.

          ~~  Joan Knutson


Bob came out of the fantastic body of colleagues in Cleveland. We met at the bridge table during the Cleveland Industrial Bridge League. He played for Sohio Research Center and I played for the B.F. Goodrich Center. We were both research chemists. A deep and abiding friendship developed and lasted all these years. What a man and what a person of faith! So many memories, such profound and meaningful encounters over the years. May he join the long list of Saints of the Order who have passed on. Journey on my beloved Bob. Grace and Peace and Love,

          ~~  Jack Gilles


One great man! What a great soul, indeed! He phoned us a couple of weeks ago thanking us for our letter and the “Journey Reflection” blog, that he said was a help to   his sense being connected to our global Order community and mission on a daily basis. It was a profound conversation about the journey he and his family were on. He spoke proudly and gratefully for the presence and care for him and Sandra provided by their team of strong young women. Bob’s care and leadership in our community will long be remembered. Grace and Peace,

          ~~  Lynda and John Cock


Tall Bob, Strong Bob, Steady Bob, Warm Bob – Thanks Bob for the many mysterious facets of your being and your fierce commitment to our community. In you we witnessed a profound resolve to guard the spirit dimension while building models and practical plans to care for us along the way.


In the 60’s in the Cleveland Metro I was a fellow engineer who watched in awe as Bob and Jack Gilles led the charge to be first teachers of the Religious Studies One (RS-1) weekend seminar and onward to help invent the Local Church Experiment of congregational renewal and service to local neighborhoods. Like Bob and Jack I eventually walked away from a budding engineering career and lashed my personal and family journey to the Order Ecumenical. What a great wild ride we have enjoyed together. Blessings all around to the Rafos family as they with us grieve and celebrate the completed life a man who was a spirit mentor, a tough love colleague and a great guy. Journey on Bob, Journey on.

          ~~  Sherwood and Eunice


Happy final transition to a man of stalwart spirit whom could be depended upon to ensure a liveable environment at “Base Camp One” on North Sheridan and Lawrence. Journey on Rafos, into a future blessed with Comfort and Love. Grace and Peace,

          ~~  Dawn Collins


So many memories of encounters with Bob. I am so glad we reconnected with you both when Bob and I served on the ICA-USA board of directors. Sending you our love and prayers. His memories will live on. May he Rest In Peace.

          ~~  Elsa and Addi Batica


Some lives are hard to celebrate their completion, and Bob’s is certainly one. We worked together seven years in Chicago, first on the west side and then in what is now Greenrise. Bob as head of Management Centrum showed remarkable skill in keeping things running smoothly. It earned him the nickname “Nails.” In addition to his practical expertise, he was also a real theologian. I just found a letter to him written in 1985 responding to one from him that resembled the writings of St. Augustine. As many have said, he was a spirit giant, and when he sat at the head of the table in the Lumumba Room at the 10PM meetings in Greenrise, he provided a presence of practical confidence amidst the chaos.

          ~~  John Epps


Bob Rafos was a spirit giant. It was so good to reconnect with him on the ICA board and earlier on the golf course at SATWIT outings. Some of our most meaningful conversations took place in the “communal” bathroom at GreenRise with shaving cream on our faces. Deepest sympathY to Sandy and the family.

          ~~  Randy Williams


Yes he was a fine spirit man and we all loved being with him – talking, eating and birding with him and Sandy.  Our love goes out to his whole family.
~~  Cynthia and Bob Vance



Sandra Lynne Rafos, affectionately known as Sandy, passed away peacefully on November 13, 2023, in Marquette, MI, with her three daughters by her side. She was born on February 8, 1936, in Akron, Ohio. Sandy lived a full and vibrant life filled with adventure, creativity, and spirit. Her adventurous nature led her across the globe, impacting countless lives along the way.


Sandy’s pursuit of knowledge took her to Denison University and Michigan State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Her academic pursuits, however, were just the beginning of her lifelong journey of learning and discovery.


In 1970, Sandy embarked on a remarkable career with the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA), a non-profit organization. Throughout her tenure with the ICA, which spanned nearly two decades, Sandy helped develop and facilitate programs designed to challenge social boundaries and resolve problems. She held multiple international posts, including assignments in Kenya, Nigeria, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Chicago, and Toronto, creating a global footprint of positive change. Among her many achievements were helping to develop an Imaginal Education program for inner-city preschools and Women’s Advancement Programs for rural village women in Kenya. Her last post with the ICA was in Toronto, Ontario, where she and her beloved husband Bob, with whom she shared 61 years of marriage, made their permanent home.


In retirement, Sandy found delight in her newfound passions and community involvements. She and her husband Bob discovered a love for birding and travel. Summers were a time of joy and togetherness for Sandy and her family. They would gather at their cottage in Brutus, MI, where they enjoyed golfing, boating, campfires, and the beauty of nature.


Her creative spirit found an outlet in quilting, and she crafted beautiful quilts that not only won multiple ribbons but also warmed the hearts and homes of her family members.  Sandy’s spiritual journey led her to study Native American healing, participating in women’s groups that celebrated traditions of drumming, storytelling, healing, and artistry. She was an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Toronto, where she found a community that embraced her adventurous spirit and creative soul.


Sandy is survived by her three daughters and their spouses: Kimberly Ann Sirrine (Michael), Robin Christine Roy (Jay), and Sharon Lynn Rafos (Helen). She was a beloved grandmother to Eric Sirrine (Britt), Douglas Sirrine (Julia), Justin Roy (Adia), and Emma Roy. The legacy of her love and spirit continues in her eight great-grandchildren: Killian, Vada, Hazell, Arlo, Anne, Maggie, Ingrid, and Lillian. She also leaves behind her sister-in-law, Marjorie Rafos.


Sandy’s life was a testament to her adventurous spirit, her creative passion, and her commitment to making a difference in the world.




It is with deep sadness that we report that our Mother, Sandra Lynne Rafos, passed away Monday, November 13, 2023.  She died peacefully at home with her daughters Kim, Sharon and Robin by her side. She lived an amazing and spirited life.  No doubt she is dancing in heaven with our Father.  May they walk together, reunited in peace.



Sandy and I had some great times together — mainly taking two birding trips with our spouses to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and also to the Caribbean.  I also enjoyed Sandra’s art — she made lovely baskets.  One time when we planned to visit her up north, she requested that I bring pine needles from the Florida Long Leaf Pine trees which I was pleased to do.  The twinkle in her eyes and her zest for life was delightful!

          ~~  Cynthia Vance


For the dear Rafos family, We join in celebrating the completed life of Sandra.  It was our privilege to live and work with Sandra and Bob for several years in Chicago where they provided great leadership to our order.  We trust that her devoted legacy of service will comfort you. With grace and peace,

          ~~  Jack and Louise Ballard


I have such fond memories of Sandy, and they all include a loving smile and spirit. My condolences go out to the family for your loss. May all your cherished memories bring you peace and comfort. Hugs,

          ~~  Kristen Cramer


Dearest Rafos Family, From years in Chicago to sharing a cabin dorm for a Jean Houston program, your mom was a joy to be around. May the memories of her continue to bless you. I second all the comments from colleagues as another “blue shirt” flies “up.” With love and prayers,

          ~~  Sunny Walker 


I have had interaction with Sandra as she changed and I changed.  I remember many things but I remember most her ability to say no gracefully and with care.  I do not remember a time I changed her mind, but I remember several in which I learned something and together we made a third choice.  With love, respect and remembrance

            ~~  Larry Philbrook


Dear Sharon, Kim, and Robin Rafos and family, Thank you for sharing that Sandra was with her daughters at home and is dancing with your father in heaven. Great pictures you shared of her! Thank you! When our paths crossed in Kenya, she was not afraid to speak her mind and always gave helpful suggestions to me in child rearing, working in the field, and always had a warm smile to greet us when we returned to Nairobi. May peace be with you always,

          ~~. Evelyn Kurihara Philbrook


Dear Sharon and whole family, Sorry for your loss. Remembering your Mom Sandra, as a soft spoken, sweet and calm person. May you find comfort and strength letting her go, and letting God provide the eternal peace.  Aloha,

          ~~  Jailu Navarrete


Dear Sharon, My condolences to you. We grieve that with her passing, yet another part of our community is gone. It makes it more clear how precious she and all others who left are to us.

          ~~  Dharmalingam Vinasithamby



My deepest condolences to the Rafos family. Indeed, Sandra and Bob are dancing! 🙏🏽💙

            ~~  Joyce Sloan


Sending love and peace to all of Sandra’s family. When Bruce and I were assigned to Hong Kong Centrum with Sandy and Bob, they both had a huge impact on us. Sandy was clever and kind enough to include Bruce as a consultant at Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank where she worked. Sandy and I had to use our middle initials on assignment charts, as (at the time) we were both SR. She was a caring and dear friend to me. Deepest sympathy, peace and comfort at her loss. With love,

          ~~  Sharon Fisher


I so appreciate the Rafos family. So I send my love, and light a candle for Sandra and the whole family.  We are all connected.

           ~~  Jon Mark Elizondo


Your Mom was a very special role model for me — strong, committed, faithful and faith-filled.  I loved the last time Joe and I could be with her and your Dad at Abbey North for a wonderful weekend of Meditative practices, hosted by John and Thea. Grace and peace,

          ~~  Marilyn Crocker



To the three of you, my condolences. Know I am thinking of my past with your family and think of you fondly. May you each be comforted.

          ~~  Sarah Buss