A Brief Remembrance by Doug Draper, followed by a 2020 Tribute to Doug Rapelje upon his receiving the Niagara regional government’s T. Roy Adams Humanitarian Award
Posted May 16th, 2022 on Niagara At Large
In the neighbourhood where I grew up in the west end of Welland and where he and his family lived for a while, everyone loved them.
“You could not ask for better neighbours,” I heard my parents and others in the neighbourhood say.
The father figure or dad in that good family was Doug Rapelje and years later, when I began working as a reporter at The St. Catharines Standard, I crossed paths with him again – this time working as an administrator for Niagara’s regional government as a passionate, tireless champion of quality pubic services for senior citizens.
Even after he retired from the Region, he volunteered his time to making life better for seniors and by doing so he more than embodied the meaning of the term; “above and beyond the call of duty.”
Public servants have received more knocks than usual in recent years – especially at the Niagara regional level of government from 2014 through 2018 when the Al Caslin administration (or “cabal” as many came to call it) was in charge at Regional Headquarters and in the offices of partner agencies like the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA).
Yet it is important to remember – during an era when so much attention has been placed on the bad ones – that there were and still is decent, dedicated public servants like Doug Rapelje working for the good of our communities and the people living and working in them.
To forget or to deny that is to risk falling prey to Trump-like, right-wing extremists (and yes, we also have them in Canada) who want to discredit and tear down existing democratic institutions for reasons that are ultimately in no one’s interests other than their own.
Doug Rapelje left us earlier this May at age 88 and here now, with sympathies to his family and close friends, is a 2020 outline of his contributions to our communities from Niagara’s regional government –
Douglas Rapelje named 2020 T. Roy Adams Humanitarian Award Recipient
Douglas Rapelje has been named the 2020 recipient of the T. Roy Adams Humanitarian Award in recognition of his dedication to the community and welfare of seniors.
Throughout his long career, Rapelje has worked tirelessly to advocate for seniors’ services in Niagara through his ongoing volunteerism, community engagement, and leadership.
His involvement with the Alzheimer Society of Niagara Region led to the creation of the Alzheimer Society Niagara Foundation in 2005, which raises much-needed funds every year to support the programs and services of the Alzheimer Society.
He has also been a mainstay at the namesake Rapelje Lodge, one of Niagara Region’s eight long-term care homes. He is a regular guest speaker at the home’s events, helps ensure new residents and their families are welcomed into the home’s community, and acts as an ambassador for the many seniors programs and services available in Niagara.
Mr. Rapelje has been recognized throughout his long career for his accomplishments and dedication to the care of seniors. Most recently, he received the Canadian Association in Gerontology’s Contribution to Gerontology Award (2016) and the Niagara Centre Canada 150 Awards’ Contributions to the Community Award (2017).
“On behalf of Regional Council, I would like to congratulate Doug Rapelje on being named the recipient of the 2020 T. Roy Adams Humanitarian Award. Doug requires no introduction, and his impressive record of service in Niagara speaks for itself.
“Doug is a worthy recipient of this award, having dedicated the majority of his life to both advocating for the rights of seniors, and to improving their quality of life here at home and across Canada. Doug embodies all of the qualities we look for in the recipient of this award, and his record of service and volunteerism stands as an example of what the best in our community are capable of.”, said Regional Chair Jim Bradley.
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