Cover photo for Clarence Rappleyea's Obituary
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1933 Clarence 2016

Clarence Rappleyea

November 2, 1933 — September 4, 2016


Clarence D. (“Rapp”) Rappleyea, 82, a native of Norwich, NY, passed away peacefully, on Sunday, September 4, 2016, at Albany Medical Center, with family by his side.

Affable and approachable, “Rapp” personified principled commitment to public service as Norwich City Attorney, Minority Leader of the New York State Assembly, and Chairman of the New York Power Authority.

He was born on November 2, 1933, in Norwich, Chenango County, NY. After graduating from Norwich High School, he attended Wagner College on Staten Island, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at Albany in 1957. Before proceeding to law school, he taught at the South New Berlin Schools in Chenango County. He earned his Juris Doctorate from Cornell University School of Law in 1962. He was admitted to the bar in 1964 and practiced law in Norwich. He served as City Attorney of Norwich and was active in an array of charitable and civic organizations in Chenango County.

Prior to running for elected office, he drove Formula Ford racing cars in ACCUS (Automobile Competition Committee for the United States) sanctioned competitions, an avocation that he would later characterize as “safer than politics”. He also took flying lessons and piloted his first solo flight in his four seater Beechcraft Bonanza in the 1970s.

“Rapp” served in the New York State Assembly for more than 22 years. Elected to the Assembly in November 1972, he became the Republican Minority Leader in January 1983. He led the Assembly Republicans until June 1995. Significantly outnumbered by the Majority Democrats, he described his position as “the Rodney Dangerfield of New York politics:”, and remarked, “I'm not as funny as Rodney, but I get a lot less respect”.

Appointed by Governor George E. Pataki to serve as a Trustee of the New York Power Authority, “Rapp” was elected by the Trustees to serve as Chairman in July 1995. He led the nation's largest state-owned public power enterprise until January 2001. The organization's headquarters in White Plains, Westchester County, was subsequently named in his honor.

He continued to be involved in public life as a lawyer and lobbyist, after retiring from the Power Authority. He served as Board Member Emeritus of the Government Law Center at Albany Law School, which created the Clarence D. Rappleyea Government Scholar in Residence program in his honor. He had also served as a member of the Advisory Board of the New York State Fair since 2011.

Rapp loved life and lived it to the fullest. He was incredibly generous and had a great sense of humor. He was passionate about helping others and making the world a better place. He was committed to his home town of Norwich. He made a difference in more people's lives than he ever realized. He put his family above all else and he will be dearly missed by his wife, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who all adored him..

Rapp is survived by his wife of 60 years, Nancy Oates Rappleyea. Also surviving are: his three daughters and their husbands: Pam (Don) Vredenburgh of Chenango Forks, NY, Stacy (Rob Towne) Rappleyea of Chapel Hill, NC, and Susan (Paul) Powers, of Schodack Landing, NY; seven grandchildren, Jacob (Amanda) Vredenburgh of Troy, NY, Dr. Zachary (Kara) Vredenburgh of Somerset, NJ, Sam Towne of Charlotte, NC, Sarah Towne of Chapel Hill, NC, Katherine (Lucas) Ashby of Castleton-on-Hudson, NY, Mia Powers of Albany, NY, and Matthew Powers of Schodack Landing, NY; and four great-grandchildren, Gracelyn, Charlie and Benedict Ashby, and Molly Vredenburgh. Rapp is also survived by sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Frank and Dorothy Benenati, two brothers, Richard Rappleyea and Robert Rappleyea, and a sister, Linda (Coleman) Wake; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, Clarence D. Rappleyea Sr. and Mary (Griffin) Rappleyea Coleman, a brother, Ronald Coleman, and the wonderful couple that raised him, Cut and Millie Burrell.

The family would like to thank the staff at The Terrace at Beverwyck, for the wonderful care they provided for him over the past year, as well as the many medical providers that saw him on a regular basis, particularly, Dr. Bill Caramore, Dr. Era Hanspal, and Dr. Rafia Chaudhry.

A Celebration of Life for Rapp will be held at the Northeast Classic Car Museum, 24 Rexford Street, Norwich, NY, at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 10, 2016. Private burial services will immediately follow at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Norwich. Friends are invited to call at the car museum from 4:00 p.m. -8:00 p.m., on Friday, September 9. Another Celebration of Rapp's life will be held at 1:00 pm on Monday, September 12, at the Terrace Gallery, 4th floor of the New York State Museum, Empire State Plaza, in Albany.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations in his memory to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, Grand Central Station, P.O. Box 4777, New York, NY 10163, or the Cure Alzheimer's Fund, 34 Washington Street, Suite 200, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481, or the Roger Follett Foundation, Inc., 35 West Main Street, Norwich, NY 13815.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Clarence Rappleyea, please visit our flower store.


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