Pauline Stemmer


4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Thursday, June 20, 2024
Harloff Funeral Home
803 S. Washington Street
East Rochester, New York, United States

Funeral Mass

10:00 am - 11:00 am
Friday, June 21, 2024
St. Thomas More Church
2617 East Ave
Rochester, New York, United States

Obituary of Pauline Stemmer

Pauline Rapavi Stemmer, 91, of Rochester, New York, passed away peacefully at home on June 14, 2024, after a hard-fought battle with Alzheimer’s. Her fight to the end was a testament to her strength and will to stay with her family as long as she possibly could—a family trait. She was the youngest and last remaining of 10 children, with 6 brothers and 3 sisters, all embodying the Rapavi toughness. Pauline was a product of that great generation.

Pauline was born in Brantingham, New York, to John and Anna Rapavi on July 27, 1932. She attended high school at Utica Free Academy and married Don Stemmer, also of Utica. They were married for 41 years until Don passed away in 1991. They raised five children: sons Robert (Elizabeth), Paul, David (Georgeann), Raymond, and daughter Ann Marie (Scott) Gilbert. Pauline also leaves behind grandchildren Robert Jr., Stephen, Daniel, Carly, Christine, Emily, and Stephanie, as well as several great-grandchildren.

She and Don were firm believers in the Catholic faith and regular attendees of St. Thomas More Parish from 1968 until she was too ill to attend, faithfully going to mass every Sunday. They enjoyed many church events and dinner dances. Pauline volunteered as a lunch monitor at St. Thomas More School when her boys attended, trying unsuccessfully to avoid the many dodgeballs flying her way. She later worked as a teller for Citibank for 20 years and, after retiring, worked in the children’s area at the Brighton library into her 80s.

Pauline enjoyed family gatherings for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and the 4th of July, and was the undisputed ringleader in keeping the family very close-knit. She loved going to parades and was especially fond of honoring military veterans. With six brothers who were servicemen, five of whom were World War II veterans, patriotism was a passion of hers. She loved to garden and work in the yard, was involved in the Rose Society early on, and won countless awards for the roses she grew. When her boys were involved in scouting, she served as a den mother for their troop. Pauline was a dedicated supporter of her kids and grandkids sports teams and their distance running efforts, always there to cheer them on. She was also an avid Bills fan, frequently yelling at the TV, and loved taking her grandkids to the Bills training camp, begging for autographs. She enjoyed taking her grandkids to museums, festivals, parades, and movies. Pauline was a very creative cook, renowned for her spaghetti sauce and mouth-watering cracker crumb pork chops. Tomato pie was a Utica favorite of hers. Saturday nights were spent with Don and friends playing board games and cards. Pauline loved music, Elvis being among her favorites.

Summer vacations were spent visiting her sisters, cousins, nieces, and nephews in Utica. Pauline had a special love for Brantingham, New York, where she was raised before moving to Utica. Staying at the house in Brantingham was always a favorite time for her and Don. A unique home, we mastered the outdoor water pump for fresh water and picked wild blueberries for breakfast. She loved showing her children the former one-room schoolhouse she attended as a little girl and taking them for swims at the lake down the road. Pauline cherished nights out at the Coach Light and Brantingham Inns with her siblings and relatives, where fun and laughter were always in abundance.

Pauline is preceded in death by her brothers Mike, George, Alec, Pete, Paul, and Andy; sisters Eva, Mary, and Ann; and brother-in-law Richard Stemmer. She is survived by her many beloved nieces, nephews, and their children, as well as brothers- and sisters-in-law Robert Stemmer, Pauline Stemmer, and Selwa Stemmer (Richard).

She will be sadly missed and fondly remembered.

Visitation will be held on Thursday from 4-7 p.m. at Harloff Funeral Home, 803 S. Washingston Street, East Rochester. 

A funeral service will be held at St. Thomas More Church on June 21 at 10 a.m., officiated by Reverend Fr. Hart. Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to the St Thomas More Church





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