Cottage Grove, Wisconsin / Cortland, New York - Ruth Olivia Wickersham Papalia, age 84, of Monona, WI, died peacefully on Tuesday October 8, 2019 at Aster Retirement Community Home in Cottage Grove under the care of Agrace HospiceCare. She lived 6 years with Parkinson's Disease without complaint. Ruth and her husband Anthony resided in Cortland, NY from 1962 to 2013.
Ruth was born February 5, 1935 in Quakertown, PA. Her parents were W. Clifford Wickersham and Fannie Clymer Wickersham. Ruth had an older sister, Esther, from whom she borrowed her first harp. Ruth began harp lessons when she was 9 years old. At 17, she entered Oberlin Conservatory of Music, in Ohio, majoring in harp performance under Lucy Lewis. During her college years she studied with Carlos Salzedo at the Summer Harp Colony of America in Camden, Maine. Also, during her college years, she met her husband to be, Anthony Papalia.
In the 1950's, Ruth toured the United States and Canada as a member of Columbia Artists' "The Angelaires," a Community Concert quintet of professional harpists. Ruth was co-founder of the Central New York Chapter of the American Harp Society (AHS). 1979 began her involvement at the national level: she served as AHS Secretary, AHS Treasurer and Chairman of the Board of Directors. In 2004, Ruth, Lucy Scandrett and Jan Bishop formed a trio named "The Three of Harps" which commissioned two pieces from the British composer Simon Proctor. The trio performed over 20 concerts together. Ruth also performed for over 40 years with the College Community Orchestra at State University of NY at Cortland. In 2008 Ruth received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, given to honor extraordinary service to The American Harp Society, Inc. and the harp.
Her family remembers her fondness for picnics, eating on the patio and family vacations. She threw marvelous birthday parties and hosted many dinner parties. Mom had a quick wit and a gracious manor. She supported her daughters in many pursuits: Lamont Circle softball, drama, 4-H, Girl Scouts, religious education, Soap Box Derby, concert band, etc. As a wife, Ruth was a good role model for her children. She moved the young family several times so Tony could complete his doctorate. She and Tony both had the knack of turning everyday times into "adventures".
Ruth is survived by her husband of 63 years, Dr. Anthony S. Papalia of Cottage Grove, WI. Four daughters: Mary (Milo) Clarke of St. Augustine, FL; Jean (Michael Beatty) Papalia of McFarland, WI., Anne (Jerry Berardi) Papalia of Lemoyne, PA. and Martha (Philip) Berry of McFarland, WI; 5 granddaughters: Willa, Zoe and Ava Papalia-Beatty, and Samantha and Jessica Berry.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 1:00 PM on Saturday October 12, 2019 at IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY CATHOLIC CHURCH, 5101 Schofield St. Monona WI. with Fr. Chad Droessler presiding. Visitation will be from 12:00 Noon until the time of the service at the church on Saturday.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Agrace HospiceCare, 5395 E Cheryl Parkway, Fitchburg, WI 53711 or Catholic Charities of Cortland County, 33-35 Central Avenue, Cortland, NY 13045.
Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
5801 Highway 51 McFarland
3 people have supported the family by purchasing them flowers or gifts from the Healing Registry.
Buy Gift Now
Your Mother was a great friend of the arts. She introduced many young people to the beauty of the harp, and was an asset to the Cortland community. It needn't be mentioned, she always had a kind word even when someone played a bit flat.
Dear Tony & Family,
We are very very sorry about your great loss.
Ruth was the nicest lady and so kind to others. She will be enormously missed.
Our prayers and thoughts are with you at this very difficult time.
The Natale Family
Dear Tony and Family,
My thoughts are with in this difficult time. Many fond memories of your whole family as neighbors.
Dear Tony and family,
I was very sorry to read of Ruth's passing. I remember the Three of Harps' concert for a CPEF fundraiser and how beautiful the women and their music were. I'd never heard anything like it. What a joy to have been surrounded by the love of both in your lives. You are all in my thoughts. Sincerely, Anne Sabach
Dear Tony and family,
I am very sorry to hear of Ruth's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Our families shared many times together in Cortland, NY. I always enjoyed Ruth playing the harp.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Carmen, Teodora and Adrian Buzea-Cortland, NY
Dear Tony and family
There are so many wonderful memories of you Ruth and the girls while you were in Cortland
St. Anthony's enjoyed your fellowship and friendship
Josephine and I often talk about you and the family
We are so sorry for your lose but know that her memory will always be held close to you in your hearts.
Know of our love and prayers God Bless Josephine and Anne Caratelli
Dr. Papalia and Girls, I am so very sorry to hear about your mom passing. Sending you the strength you need to get though a difficult time. She was a wonderful lady!
Pauline Dumas Penoyer *Babysat for your girls while I attended college at Cortland
Dear Tony, I am so sorry about Ruth's passing. I don't know if you remember me - Phil Corsi from St. Anthony's Church. Remember you and your family fondly. My sincere sympathy. Prayers, Phil
My deepest condolences to Mr. Papalia and the girls. I had the pleasure of not only knowing the girls, but also their grandparents. When I worked at a bank in Quakertown, Ruth and Tony would often visit. They gave me a present for my soon to be born baby and said they hoped I would start my own "sorority" as they had done. I am sending love to all of you. Terry Arnold Morse
My brother, Mi, married Ruth's oldest daughter, Mary 7 short years ago, and he has been just ecstatic. We Clarkes all fell in love with the entire Papalia family and we are all so very sad that Ruth has lost her courageous battle with Parkinson's. Ruth played a major role in raising such a wonderful family. Tony, Mary J and all your family, we send our deepest and most sincere condolences. One quick memory that will always stay with me comes from my brother, Ted, who is the ultimate punster. When Mi married Mary J, Ted announced to all that the Clarkes were no longer ruthless, and even with her passing we Clarkes will continue to keep Ruth close to our hearts and dear to our family.
Dear Tony, my condolences to you and your family. It's very sad news .I knew Ruth for so many years and have many happy memories from your time in Cortland. May She rest in peace.
Dear Tony my condolences to you and
I had the honor and privilege of becoming one of her sons-in-law in 2012 and she always treated me as if I had been part of the family since first meeting Mary in high school in the 70's. All I can say is that I know she'll pick out a really good harp in Heaven, and play the very best, and sweetest tunes. I will miss her very much. Rest in Peace, Mom.
My sincere condolences to this wonderful family. To Jean, Anne, Mary and Martha, your mother was such a wonderful and talented woman. She raised amazing children, and I am sure that she loving playing her harp somewhere. Sending much love your way to you and your dad. Tim Thompson
So sorry to hear of Aunt Ruth’s passing, may all the great memories comfort you at this time. Praying for all, Brenda and Mike Albaugh
I was so sorry to hear about Ruth's passing. Thoughts and prayers for all of the Papalia's.and gratitude for more than you will know. Sue Becker (RDC)
PhotosAdd a photo
Have a floral question? Call +1 888-640-1035
Healing Registry Unavailable at the Moment!