Charles “Charlie” J. Gafner, 88, passed away Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at Bishop Noa Home following a lengthy illness with cancer.
He was born on March 29, 1929, in Escanaba, MI, son of Charles and Beatrice (Bernier) Gafner. He graduated from St Joseph’s High School and attended Northern Michigan University.
On October 2, 1948, Charlie married Patricia Willette in Gladstone MI. She preceded him in death on January 31, 2017.
He served in the Air Force as a Staff Sargent and radar instructor from 1948 until his honorable discharge in 1952.
Charlie started working for Red Owl Foods in 1952, with his career lasting 35 years. He was an assistant manager in Appleton WI, manager at the Ironwood, Menominee, and Escanaba stores, then a district manager for the franchise stores in the U.P. and Upper Wisconsin.
He loved rabbit and deer hunting, watching sports on TV, especially the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Red Wings, golfing in his younger years and spending time at his beloved camp in Cornell. He also loved watching high school sports, especially girls softball and basketball. He played fast pitch softball as a catcher for several years in Ironwood, Menominee, and Escanaba, playing for over 30 years total in many different states.
Charlie was a member of the Elks and Knights of Columbus. In his younger years he was involved in the Kiwanis and Lions Club.
Among the survivors include his children, M. Lynn (Jim) Soderberg, Edward (Christine) Gafner, David Gafner, Karen (Mark) Gardipee, Paula (Ron) Kreiter, Laura Richards, Peter (Debra) Gafner, James (Christine) Gafner; grandchildren, Melissa (Bill) McBerkowitz, Trisha (Tom Bissell) Miller, Craig (Amy) Miller, Steven (Patty) Miller, Megan Soderberg, Scott (Tina) Gafner, Erick (Briony) Gafner, Adam (Amber) Gafner, Erin (Eric) Hiddema, Erica (Christian) Picard, Jonathon (Marissa) Rolig, Ryan Kreiter, Patricia Kreiter, Daniel Kapalin, Andrew Kapalin, Sara Kapalin, Katrina Gafner, Peter Gafner II, Allysa Rogers and Sydney Gafner, Kyle Wendt and Sara Wendt; 24 great grandchildren; sisters in law, Suzanne (John) Chansler and Mary Carrington; cousins, Tom Gafner, Beverly Peterson, Jim Gafner, and Phyllis Neven; 13 nieces and nephews.
In addition to his wife, Patricia, Charlie was preceded in death by his parents.
Visitation will be Monday April 17th from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm at the Crawford Funeral Home in Escanaba. Veteran services will begin at 3:00 pm. The Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 5 p.m. at St. Joseph and St. Patrick Church with Rev. Eric Olson officiating. A luncheon will follow in the church hall.
Entombment will take place in Gardens of Rest Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Holy Name School or The Honor Flight. Envelopes will be available at the funeral home.
The Crawford Funeral Homes are assisting the Gafner family.