Charlene was born and raised in Iowa. She graduated from Northwestern Hospital School of Nursing in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She spent 5 years in the Air Force Nurse Corps, stationed in Texas and the Phillipines where she cared for Vietnam war wounded. In 1964 she married Frank Kafer. They have two sons and two grandchildren. Charlene is a Conference Lay Speaker, Conference Lay Minister and ESUMC Lay Minister.