Mary D. Rich (nee Panella)



Mary D. Rich (nee Panella) of Waukesha was born to eternal life Tuesday, July 31, 2012, at the age of 99.


Born in Marblehead and raised in Milwaukee, the daughter of Nicholas and Carmella (Sasso) Panella, Mary moved to Waukesha permanently when she married Michael, her late husband and her “football hero,” who was attending Carroll College at the time. She and Mike owned and operated Rich’s Cambrian House and Rich’s Pizza for 30 years.  Local sports fans will remember the many teams they sponsored over the years including bowling, basketball and softball.


Mary was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church for 77 years, and was involved in a variety of religious and fraternal organizations through the years, including St. Joseph Christian Mothers, the Catholic Study Club and St. Anthony Society. She was also a member of the Women’s Relief Corps and the St. Bartholomew Society (the patron saint of her father’s home town in Italy). Mary was past president of the Waukesha chapter of the Ladies of UNICO and past president of the Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxiliary. 

Mary is lovingly survived by her daughter, Julie Ann (James) Rappis of Waukesha. The brightest stars in Mary’s universe were her two grandchildren, James Michael Rappis of Waukesha and Jill Mary Rappis of Chicago. She never tired of expounding on their academic and professional achievements to anyone who would listen. She is also survived by her brother, Joseph Panella of New Berlin; her sister-in-law, Andrea Panella of Silver Spring, Md.; and brother-in-law, Frederick (Dorothy) Rich of Waukesha. She is also survived by her caring and thoughtful goddaughter, Mary Ann Farner of Hot Springs, Ark., and other nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.

Mary was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Michael; brothers, Louis and Anthony; and sister, Mayme Meagher.


Visitation for Mary will be from 9 a.m. until the 11 a.m. memorial Mass on Friday, Aug. 10, at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 822 N. East Ave., Waukesha. Private inurnment at St. Joseph Cemetery will follow.


Memorials in Mary’s name are appreciated to St. Joseph Catholic Church at the above address; the Waukesha Catholic School System, c/o Nancy Nadolny, Advancement Director, 221 S. Hartwell Ave., Waukesha, WI 53186; or donations to the charity of one’s choice.


A special thank you to her grandson, Jim, who with his caring and loving help, afforded her the opportunity to live in her home independently and happily until her passing.


Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home, Cremation and Pre-Planning Services is serving the family. For the online obituary or to leave condolences, please visit www.WaukeshasFuneralHome.com, or call 542-6609.