William Elmer Rafiner
Elmer Rafiner, the son of Elmer "Dutch" Rafiner and Olive Marie Bowers, passed away August 5, 2012 surrounded by his family.
Born November 23, 1921 in Jackson County, Elmer grew up in Kansas City and graduated from Central High School in 1939. Shortly after graduation, Elmer met Jeanette V. Marple, while both were working at Hall Brothers. They were married January 18, 1942 shortly before Elmer enlisted in the U.S. Army.
In 1942, Elmer enlisted in the U.S. Army and retired from the U.S. Army Reserves in 1981. He entered the service as an officer in the U.S. Army Coastal Artillery Corps serving along the California coast and retiring from the U.S. Army Reserves Field Artillery, at the rank of Lt. Colonel. During World War II Elmer was stationed in the Aleutian Islands and received the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre Medal, one Bronze Service Star for an amphibious assault, and the Army Commendation Medal. Elmer was a Life Member of VFW Post 7900.
Following the war Elmer and Jeanette remained in Kansas City. Elmer worked for the Veterans of Foreign Wars becoming the Director of General Services. For many years he chaperoned state winners of the VFW's "Voice of Democracy" contest to Washington, D.C.
Throughout his life, Elmer's focus was his family. He and Jeanette raised three children, all graduates of the University of Missouri. One son, Tom, and wife, Nancy, live in Parkville, Mo. Their daughter, Judy Monroe and her husband, Rich, live in Stilwell, Ks. A second son, Robin, and his wife Kathy live in Phoenix, Az.
Elmer loved flowers, tools, bricks, and laughter. His "green thumb" enhanced the yards of many homes where he and Jeanette lived. A self-taught carpenter, electrician, plumber, and bricklayer, Elmer's endless energy built, all by himself, three houses and many amazing creations. Dad always had a smile on his face and an infectious laugh. Although punished by it, the game of golf taught him humility and mathematics.
Elmer and Jeanette were founding members of Unity Church of Overland Park. Elmer served as a President of the church's Board of Trustees and later led the "Recycled Teenagers" social group. In addition to his church, Elmer served Children's Mercy Hospital, for years, as an active member of the "Century Club."
Elmer is survived by Jeanette, his wife of 70 years, and their three children. Additionally, nine grandchildren, and 12 great grandchildren carry his legacy.
A "Celebration of Life" will be held on August 25 at the Unity of Overland Park. The Celebration will be from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. The family requests that donations, in lieu of flowers, be made to the Crossroads Hospice or the Unity Church of Overland Park Building Fund. Fond memories and condolences for the family may be left at
(Arrangements by D.W. Newcomer's Sons Overland Park Chapel, 8201 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, KS 66204, 913-648-6224)