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Robert Rafos

July 6, 1935 – March 9, 2018

Born in Brooklyn, New York; died in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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.”


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




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

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