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Susanne Rappaport

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Susanne Rappaport

1944 - 2015 WEST PAWLET Susanne Rappaport, a longtime resident of West Pawlet, Vt., who in Oct. 2014 received the Vermont Historical Society's Lifetime Achievement Award, died on Jan. 5, at Mountain View Center in Rutland, following the recent onset of cancer. Born in Boston, on Feb. 20, 1944, Susanne was the daughter of the former Helen Colburn and Joseph Julien Snyder. Her mother was a homemaker, her father, treasurer of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A 1962 graduate of Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill, Mass., she majored in dance at Bennington College, and graduated in 1966. She would teach dance in three academic settings, including Williams College and Castleton State in the 1970's and in private classes for children and adults. In 1966, she married Neil L. Rappaport, just graduated from Williams. A self-taught photographer, he established the photography program at Bennington College and was a faculty member there for 27 years. During that time the couple collaborated on many projects involving the performing and visual arts. Susanne was also director of the Bennington College Dance Project (1991-1995). Neil Rappaport died unexpectedly in 1998. After her husband's death, Susanne continued her work as founding executive director of the Slate Valley Museum in Granville, N.Y., for which she received the George Jones Award for Preservation of Welsh-American Heritage. Subsequently she was educational director at Hildene, the Robert Todd Lincoln estate in Manchester, Vt., where she initiated programs for both adults and children. Messages from a Small Town: Photographs Inside Pawlet, Vermont, a book published by the Vermont Folk Life Center in 2005, incorporates stories based on her interviews with the local people her husband photographed. Long the volunteer curator of the Pawlett Historical Society, in 2008 she became the first professional curator of the 45-year-old Dorset Historical Society. In recent years, she curated the multi-media collection of the last artist, Katherine McCabe, whom Susanne first met in the National Society of Colonial Dames of American in Vermont, of which she was a member. Working through most of 2014, she oversaw the Ekwanok Country Club's historical archive, focusing on its 19th-century photography collection. Together with all her arts, photography, and history projects, for the past 15 years she kept a small flock of award-winning sheep on her property. A person of great integrity, Susanne Rappaport will long be remembered for, and by, all those she mentored - the role she considered the most important of her life. Mrs. Rappaport is survived by her two brothers, Joseph MacGeorge Snyder and his wife, Victoria, of Burlington, and Clinton L. Snyder and his wife, Anne, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine; and by her husband's nephew, Kenneth Rachlis and his wife, Karen, of Richmond, Vt.; as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins. There will be no services. Burial at a later date will be private.
Published in Bennington Banner on Jan. 12, 2015
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