Hortenzia S. Benchea (Dolly) Rapking passed away at her home at Princeton Windrows, Princeton, NJ, on May 14, 2021, at the age of 97.
Dolly is predeceased by her husband of 67 years, Aaron H. Rapking, Jr., her first husband Charles Raezer, her parents, Myron and Margareta Benchea, and her brothers Hortenziu and Septemiu Benchea. Dolly is lovingly remembered by her son and daughter-in-law Michael and Linda Raezer of Tucson, AZ, and by her five daughters: Triana Bruso of Galloway Twp., NJ; Christine Cox of Longboat Key, FL; Frances and Steve Piesbergen of Florissant, MO; Caroline Rapking and David Hemingson of Reston, VA; MaryMarie and Frank Quigley of Annapolis, MD; niece Michele Henderson of Pensacola, FL; grandchildren Kellie, Stephanie, Charles, Sheryl, and Lisa; and great-grandchildren Katelyn, Karoline, Kathryn, Alana, Elyse, Christine, Henry and Steven.
Born in Wheeling, WV on October 17, 1923, Dolly grew up there and experienced several “adventures” during her youth, including in 1939 being with her brothers on a ship headed to Europe to study in Romania, when it was announced over the public address system that Poland had been invaded and WWII had begun. The ship was able to safely maneuver its way back to Nova Scotia, where they traveled by train to be reunited with relatives in the United States. After graduating from high school, Dolly attended the University of St. Mary in Leavenworth, KS, where at a social event with soldiers from Fort Leavenworth, she met her first husband, Charles Raezer. They got married and soon son Michael was born. 1st Lieutenant Raezer was deployed to Europe and, sadly, lost his life in the Battle of the Bulge.
Eventually Dolly returned to Wheeling, WV to live with her parents, and enrolled at WV University where she completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and Biology. It was at WVU that she met graduate student Aaron H. Rapking, Jr. They were married on November 27, 1946, and over the next 16 years were blessed with five daughters. During this time, the young family first lived in Morgantown, WV, then moved to St. Albans, WV and finally to Charleston, WV. When the youngest girls were a bit older, Dolly went to work as a Library Assistant for the Kanawha County Public Library in Charleston, WV. Additional career advancement required a master’s degree in Information Science, so at age 46, and with the full support of her family, Dolly attended Catholic University in Washington, DC, even living in the residence hall! Upon graduation, Dolly obtained a position with the WV Library Commission as Director of Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in coordination with the Library of Congress, and also oversaw the Library Services for the WV Prisons and Penitentiaries. During this time, she was active at Christ Church United Methodist in Charleston, WV., and also served a term as President of the Pilot Club of Charleston.
She retired from the Library Commission in 1983, and she and Aaron moved to Palm Harbor, FL, to live near her mother and brothers. While there, Dolly got involved in the Auxiliary for the Mease Hospital in Dunedin, FL, and served a term as the President of the Auxiliary. In 1998, Dolly and Aaron moved to NJ to be near to many of their children and found a home in the Princeton Windrows community. Dolly kept herself busy with reading, caring for her home, making wonderful friends throughout the Windrows community, and keeping up with her large family. She will be sorely missed.
A private celebration of her life was held with her family and close friends. Memorial donations to the Rapking Family Scholarship Fund may be sent to the Advancement Office, WV Wesleyan College, 59 College Ave., Buckhannon, WV, 26201, or online donations may be made at wvwc.edu.