Brock mourns loss of community partner Douglas Rapelje

Douglas Rapelje, a longtime community partner, supporter and honorary degree recipient of Brock University, passed away Wednesday, May 4 at the age of 88.

Rapelje had a long history with Brock, receiving an honorary doctorate of law degree in 2013, being an active member of the Lifespan Development Research Institute’s Senior Advisory Council and supporting numerous research projects across the University. He was a champion of Brock’s Master of Applied Gerontology program, where he was most-recently a committee member helping to support the launch of the program’s new Reimagining Aging Speaker Series through its initial event scheduled for Wednesday, May 11, which will focus on long-term care — a topic close to Rapelje’s heart.

Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Dean Peter Tiidus said that as well as being a strong advocate for the development of the Master of Applied Gerontology program, Rapelje had also been a longtime champion of undergraduate student experiential education in aging and aging-related issues.

“His many contributions to the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences and the education of our students will be greatly missed,” Tiidus said.

Rapelje was a cornerstone of the Niagara community. He served as a director of Social Services and Senior Citizens for the Region of Niagara, was a major part of Age-Friendly Niagara, was heavily involved in the Alzheimer Society of Niagara Region (which led to the creation of the Alzheimer Society Niagara Foundation in 2005), received an Ageworks Top 50 over 50 award in 2018, and has a Niagara long-term care home named after him (Rapelje Lodge in Welland). Most recently, Rapelje was named the T. Roy Adams Humanitarian Award recipient for 2020.

Jayne Morrish, Brock University Knowledge Mobilization Officer, has worked with Rapelje since she began her career at Brock and said he was “an absolute force in Niagara for older adults, gerontology and community connection, along with being a tireless supporter of Brock.

“Doug was also one of the kindest people that you could ever meet, opening his door to anyone in need and helping to support countless initiatives across the University and within the Niagara region,” she said. “He will be deeply missed.”

A private family gathering will be held this week. A celebration of life will take place on Sunday, July 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Croatian National Home, 6 Broadway in Welland.

Memorial donations can be made to a scholarship fund that has been set up in Rapelje’s name at Niagara College.

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