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Margaret Wiltse Rappole


Alexandria Bay, NY - Margaret Wiltse Rappole “A Girl of the River”, passed away on Tuesday, September 10th, 2013. She was born at home on Crossman Street in Alexandria Bay, on October 17, 1919. Her parents were Ula Van Dresar, also a Girl of the River, and Clinton Wiltse, a local Bay attorney known as the “Little Giant of the Thousand Islands”. She was also known for defending the local “rum runners” during Prohibition. The family home backed onto Hutchinson’s Boat Works, where Margaret absorbed the lure of boats and the River, as a young child.

As a teenager Margaret loved to swim, canoe all over the river, and also to dance and play basketball. She would often canoe to the Boldt farm, pull up her canoe, and then walk to the Lake of the Isles to swim. Margaret graduated from Alexandria Bay High School in 1936 and she was an outstanding basketball player. Coach George Brown remarked that Margaret was the most competitive athlete he had ever coached, male or female.

Margaret attended Cazenovia Junior College and Cortland State University. In 1939 Margaret married John Rappole, a standout athlete in football and wrestling at Alexandria Central School, as well as the University of Buffalo. They lived in Buffalo, New York, and Lansing, Illinois, but returned to Alexandria Bay in 1946 to bring up their three children on the river.

After running the Alex Bay Lumber Company, the Rappoles decided to develop their prime riverfront property across the river from Boldt Castle into a small resort, John, with Margaret’s help, single-handedly built the complex, docks and all, with three expansions over the next two decades. The original nine units opened in the summer of 1954, and the Pancake House opened in early spring of 1963. Rappoles’ original Riveredge and Pancake House was a popular destination for tourists and Islanders throughout the Thousand Islands for many years. Margaret was the manager extraordinaire for 23 years and she was known by many as the hardest worker in Alexandria Bay, in 1977 the Rappoles sold the Riveredge to Jim Donegan. Margaret retired but then worked at the Riveredge from 1980-1999, serving as concierge and overseeing her signature beautiful flowers and landscaping by the river into her eighties. John Rappole had died in 1980.

Margaret is survived by her three loving children, Clint Rappole (Leigh), Sandy Peck (Ted), and Karen Parker (Jim); her eight grandchildren, Micky, Krissy, Brita, Signy, Teddy, Hickory, Jamie, and Matt; her nine great grandchildren, Talon, Talia, Cole, Austin, Rosaleigh, Jordan! Evan, Brenna, and Bryson; her nieces and nephews, Ula Alton, Lois O’Brien, Milt Wiltse, and George Wiltse, children of her two brothers, Milton and Don; and by her cousin, Sherman Ward.

The St. Lawrence River will never see the likes of this unique Girl of the River again.

Funeral arrangements will be private and at the convenience of the family.

A celebration of life reception will be held at the Riveredge Resort at a time to be announced. Arrangments are with Costello Funeral Home, Alexandria Bay.

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