Steven James Rapallo died peacefully on the morning of July 5, 2023. He was 53. Born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised in San Diego, California, Steve went to Hill Creek Elementary School and Mission Bay High School. He later moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he graduated with a degree in computer technology.
Steve is survived by his mother, Peggy Rapallo, his father and his wife, Frank "Chic" P. Rapallo, Jr. and Diana Rapallo, his brother and sister, David and Lisa Rapallo, and his three children, Heather, Christian, and Tanner Rapallo.
Steve was diagnosed with throat cancer in the fall of 2022 and entered the Denver Health Medical Center for treatment. He lived on for more than six months, defying the expectations of almost all medical professionals who cared for him. He made clear at every stage that he wanted to take on this disease in any way he could, despite the deleterious effects that some of the harsh treatments had on his comfort and well-being. He was always a fighter, and he continued fighting until the very end.
In his youth, "Stevie" was an adorable child with a twinkle in his piercingly blue eyes and a sometimes mischievous smile. He adored animals, a passion he would carry with him throughout his life. He also loved movies; he liked to boast that he saw Star Wars dozens of times when it first came out, thanks to a childhood friend whose father worked at a local movie theater.
Steve always had a penchant for games involving math, statistics, and memory. His innate gifts were nurtured by early tutorial sessions with his mom, a teacher who offered worksheets and quizzes before he reached school age and beyond. They were further developed with his dad, an engineer who was always ready to break down advanced math problems into more understandable terms. Steve was extremely inventive, taking apart and putting back together all types of household items and electronics. He often created his own entirely new games out of baseball statistics or other common data sets. This background naturally drew him to computers and his future vocation.
Growing up, Steve enjoyed visiting his cousins and other family in southern California. Because he was born in Boston, he also retained a special connection to his extended family in Massachusetts, although he was not able to visit as much as he would have liked. He was especially proud of his own version of the "gravy" recipe his grandmother made for pasta (his secret was adding extra parmesan to the meatballs). And even from his hospital bed, Steve rooted for his beloved Celtics-cheering them on during phone calls and video chats with family-giving him both a respite from his pain and something to look forward to.
When Steve moved to Salt Lake City, he fell in love at a young age, married, and had three fantastic kids. They all moved to Virginia for several years where they got to know their cousins, Nico and Luke, and they took the family to Boston for the annual family Christmas parties. They returned to Utah several years later.
Unfortunately, throughout his life, Steve battled against substance abuse issues. His later years were marked by daunting challenges-not just for him, but for his family members who loved and tried desperately to help him, but simply couldn't figure out how. He got divorced, moved to Denver, and tried to start a new life. But the vile cycle of dependency drew him back in.
If there is any consolation for the circumstances of Steve's terrible disease, it was that he had a roof over his head and was being cared for by some of the best medical experts in the country. It also provided an opportunity for family members to reconnect after years of tumult. He wrote a letter to his children, said goodbye to his siblings, and was able to share moments of levity with his parents.
During his time in the hospital, Steve received numerous visits, notes, and emails from family and friends across the country who wanted him to know that he was loved and held a special place in their hearts. He advised family members during one of his last visits to please let everyone to know how thankful he was for their prayers. Although Steve didn't attend church regularly, one of his most prized possessions was a small cross that his grandmother Angela left him.
After all treatment options had been exhausted, Steve moved to the Denver Hospice Inpatient Care Center, a wonderful facility where he lived out his final days. However, before he was transported out of the hospital, there was a line of doctors, nurses, physician assistants and others waiting outside his room to pay their respects, shake his hand, give him a hug, and thank him for letting them get to know him. They clearly saw the same twinkle in Steve's eye that we all cherished.
Steve's final wish for everyone was to live life, enjoy the time you have now, and love your family-even as he regretted not fulfilling this wish more in his own life.
Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to visit at the Dello Russo Funeral Home, 306 Main St., Medford, on Saturday, December 2nd from 11 AM to 12:30 PM. Services will conclude with burial at Oak Grove Cemetery, Medford.