Piano teacher and peace activist dies at age 97


Florence Rapaport, a piano teacher, activist for peace and longtime Riverdalian, died on Friday at the age of 97.

Born on August 24, 1916, and raised in the town of Washington, PA, Ms. Rapaport began piano lessons at the age of 6. She was awarded a full scholarship to study piano at Mount de Chantal Academy in West Virginia, after which she went on to attend the Juilliard School of Music on a scholarship. 

After graduating from Juilliard in 1938, she became a piano teacher, teaching hundreds of students of all ages. She continued to study piano all of her life, according to her daughter, Lise Rapaport.

“She taught literally generations of kids — children grew up, got married, brought back their children to her for her to teach. She was just so active in that way with individuals in the community through her music,” Lise Rapaport said.

Ms. Rapaport moved to Riverdale in 1950 with her husband, Joseph Rapaport, where their children attended Horace Mann and Fieldston. Their first date was on Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7th, 1941. She was widowed in 1957 when Mr. Rapaport passed away. 

In addition to being a board member at the Riverdale Mental Health Association, a member of the Riverdale Temple for 60 years and carrying out work at the Riverdale Neighborhood House, Ms. Rapaport was involved in organizations for peace during the Vietnam War. Even in her last days, Ms. Rapaport prayed for world peace, her daughter said. She was the oldest resident of the Netherland Gardens, where she resided.

Her funeral was held on Tuesday at the Riverdale Temple, located at 4545 Independence Avenue. Ms. Rapaport will be buried at the Steven Wise Free Synagogue in Hastings-on-Hudson, the same cemetery where her husband and son are buried.

Ms. Rapaport had two children. Her son David Rapaport passed away roughly two years ago. She is survived by her daughter, Lise Rapaport, and Lise’s husband Seamus McCaffery. She is also survived by  David’s three children, Jill, Jonathan and Cary Rapaport, along with three great-grandchildren.

Florence Rapaport, obituary