Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sympathy Saturday: My Cousin Rho, 1949-2016

On February 19, 2016, my beautiful first cousin Rosemary Jean Steff Grandusky died at age 66 after a long battle with cancer.

This picture is my favorite of the few I've taken of her, from our grandmother's 80th birthday party in December 1982 in Chicago.

Rho (that's what everyone called her) was born May 11, 1949, in Evanston, Illinois - just like me and so many of my first cousins.  I bet it was at St. Francis Hospital, too, just like many Pape descendants.  She was the oldest of the seven children of my dad's older sister, Elizabeth Mary "Betty" Pape, and Frank James "Bud" Streff (1925-2014).  She was also the oldest of the 28 first cousins and grandchildren of our common ancestors, Paul Robert Pape (1896-1970) and Elizabeth Florence Massmann Pape (1902-2000).

Rho's father, my Uncle Bud, became District Sales Manager for Continental Coffee Company; and the family moved from Chicago to Rochester, New York, sometime between August 1957 and October 1959.  Rochester was Rho's home for the rest of her life, though she loved to travel both domestically and abroad.

According to her son JJ and daughter-in-law Marianne, Rho and her husband Steve met at a fraternity party in 1970, where, due to "my father's tendency to be annoying, he gained my mother's attention by throwing pebbles in her drink."  They fell in love and married in June 1971, and had three children, daughters Heather and Brooke as well as son JJ.  They in turn gave her seven grandchildren.

Rho became a nurse (like her mother and sister Beth), earning a BSN and a MS in Nursing and Hospital Administration from St. John Fisher College in Rochester.  She led surgical nursing teams at Genesee and Highland hospitals in Rochester.  She inspired her three children to have careers in health care as well (physical therapy, nursing, and medical sales).

Later, Rho was a manager with Ernst & Young Consulting, a vice-president with Cardinal Health, a senior manager in health care supply chain consulting with Capgemini, and a Managing Director for Navigant Consulting, Inc., helping to build a business that brought in $15 million in annual revenue.  As the National Supply Chain Practice Leader,

She provides leadership to all Supply Chain staff and engagements. Ms. Grandusky also supports NCI’s Perioperative Services improvement projects. With over 25 years of industry experience in perioperative services and 13 years of consulting experience her expertise spans a variety of providers, including large hospital systems, community hospitals, academic medical centers, and major healthcare manufacturers and distributors. She has assisted clients with supply chain and perioperative operations improvement, working with physicians and clinicians on standardization and utilization initiatives as well as other interventions that drive millions out of the bottom line.

Rho was also an artistically talented woman who could sing and sew like a dream.  She made prom dresses and bridesmaids' gowns and other clothing for family members, and was an avid quilter.  Here is one of the many beautiful and intricate quilts she made:

In 2007, Rho was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. This chronic form of blood cancer brought severe bone pain, multiple fractures, and debilitating neuropathy. Rho endured two stem cell transplants, chemotherapy, many other procedures and treatments, and much pain.  She later worked with palliative care specialists to meet her goals of less pain along with a clear mind.  According to an August 2015 blog post of the Wilmot Cancer Institute at the University of Rochester, "She was willing to accept living with some pain in order to continue activities she loves and to spend quality time with her family and friends."

We lived far apart growing up, and did not see each other that often, but thanks to the magic of Facebook (and the friendship of her wonderful family), I was able to witness Rho's immense courage as well as her unending care and enduring love for others. There is a hole in so many hearts now.

Rest in peace my dear cousin, and love to all of your family.

[This is my 1,000th post on this blog.  I began it on December 1, 2009.]

© Amanda Pape - 2016 - click here to e-mail me.

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