Generations of theRapp family provided restaurantgoers with satisfying meals at reasonable prices for more than one hundred years – beginning in Germany and then coming to America to continue these proud traditions which stood the test of time. The Rapp family name is also synonymous with generosity and giving throughout the Valley Community. To honor their parents, and to forever remember their beloved family traditions, Jo-Anna Rapp Holden and her brother Robert Rapp, Jr. and their spouses have established the Sophie and RobertW. Rapp Family Fund with the Valley Community Foundation.
“The food business is in our genes,” said Jo-Anna. “My ancestors were innkeepers in Germany; my grandfather,Adolph “Otto” came to this area at the turn of the twentieth century. He was a restaurateur at Derby’s Hoffman House, and later in Shelton at Rapp’s Restaurant. My father established his own catering business in 1939. My Aunt Madeline Conti and my Uncle Frank Rapp and their spouses continued as restaurateurs at Rapp’s Restaurant in Shelton and Rapp’s Paradise Inn in Ansonia. We’ve spent our lifetimes doing what we loved best – helping to make special events memorable for every customer we served. It was my Dad’s favorite part of his job.”
Like most Valley residents who settled here, the Rapps were hard working, deciated to their families, and committed to helping others. Bob Sr. was there to lend a hand with Boy Scouting whenever he was needed, once even surprising Ed Strang during a day hike in Massachusetts by appearing from behind a tree in genuine German hiking gear, complete with lederhosen, walking stick, feathered hat, and all!
Sophie Pyrih Rapp’s heart was forever tied to the Valley – from her Ansonia childhood, to her education at the New Haven Normal School (the forerunner of Southern Connecticut State University) where she trained as a teacher – to her marriage to Bob in 1935, and her help in growing the family catering business. Sophie even made curtains for the Lodge on the East Derby park property they owned so that a bride could marry there. And so began Grassy Hill Lodge, a Valley institution that is still thriving today. Daughter Jo-Anna and her husband Allen joined the family business in the 1980’s, retiring in 2005 when it was sold to long time employee and former manager Martha Dulla.
Bob and Sophie’s love for each other, their family and the Valley spanned decades. “Our Mom and Dad had generous hearts,” said Jo-Anna. “They were both there whenever anyone needed anything.” The Fund created by their son and daughter formalizes the childrens’ intention to continue supporting, among others, several organizations to which their parents were committed, including the Derby Historical Society, Housatonic Council of Boy Scouts, and Derby’s BSA Troop 3.
Jo-Anna concluded: “We hope that, though this Fund, the Rapp Family name will remain synonymous with good food, good works and pride in the Valley for the next hundred years, and beyond.”