BATH — Muriel C. Rapa, 88, of Bath, died Sunday with her husband and six children by her side.
A true lady, Rapa was admired for her generosity, ability to listen and not judge, creativity, kindness to others, and integrity. Those who knew her well enjoyed her fun-loving manner, infectious smile and giggle, and sense of style. While Rapa took fashion cues from no one, she was rarely seen without her hair done and lip color applied. In the winter, she loved to wear hats and was teased relentlessly by her children for the extremes to which she would go to avoid messing her hair. She had a fondness for “kicking up her heels,” Willie Nelson’s music, picking buckets of fresh berries, and Sunday drives.
She met John Rapa under a large maple tree in a Bath park while he was serving in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. They married in 1946.
Rapa was walking miles every day long before fitness became a trend. While growing up on a farm as a child, she learned to appreciate fresh vegetables and made sure they often were on the dinner table. One of her favorite meals was a fresh cucumber sandwich, which she would share when pestered by her children. Store-bought desserts were rarely an option, though she sometimes included Devil Dogs when preparing school lunches.
Rapa excelled at growing flowers, quilting and sewing, cooking, reading almost any book she could get her hands on, and managing a home filled with boisterous children. She loved learning about diverse topics. She took much pride in her children and 19 grandchildren, for whom she would create quilts and toys and pretend to be Mrs. Santa Claus on their phone calls.
Rapa’s greatest legacy is reflected in her family. In addition to her husband, she leaves behind her children, Jeanne Dolliver, Joan MacDonald, Michael Rapa, Stephen Rapa, Rosalie Mulligan and Susan Sinibaldi; 19 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren. Although she was loved and will be sadly missed by her family, the memories and lessons she left will continue to guide them.
Rapa’s family will hold a private service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, TN 38148.