Was missionary in Papua New Guinea
Stowe, Vermont, lost one of its kindest, most gentle souls on Friday, May 13, 2022. Rosmarie Trapp passed away peacefully at the age of 93 at The Manor in Morrisville; she was in the presence of loved ones all day long. Her kindness, generosity, and colorful spirit were legendary, and she had a positive impact on countless lives.
Rosmarie was born on February 8, 1929, in the village of Aigen on the outskirts of Salzburg, Austria. The first child of naval war hero Captain Georg Johannes von Trapp and his wife Maria Augusta (Kutschera) von Trapp, Rosmarie grew up in a large family with seven older half-siblings and two younger siblings. Her early years were spent with her family in Salzburg, and she emigrated with them to the United States in 1938 to escape the German occupation of Austria, where the family was pressured to cooperate with the Nazis. The family’s story was immortalized in the Broadway musical and movie The Sound of Music, though Rosmarie did not feel compelled to talk about her family’s fame.
After three years living in Lower Merion, PA, the family spent the summer of 1942 in Stowe, where they chose to put down roots, purchasing a farm that eventually evolved into the Trapp Family Lodge in 1950. In 1951 Rosmarie became a U.S. citizen, signing her name simply as “Rosmarie Trapp”. She traveled and performed with the Trapp Family Singers for many years, and worked at the Trapp Family Lodge in its infancy when the family first began hosting guests in their home. She later worked for five years as a lay missionary and teacher in Papua, New Guinea with her sister Maria. Her strong Christian faith also led her to Israel, where she enthusiastically volunteered on a Kibbutz and over-stayed her visa.
Rosmarie’s sense of curiosity and wonder led her to explore a variety of projects throughout her life, including leading sing-a-longs and knitting circles, spinning wool, and owning multiple thrift shops (Rosmarie saw value in everything, including that which others no longer wanted). She was known for her beautiful calligraphy and helped adorn many invitations and meaningful documents. She spent thousands of hours thoughtfully knitting beautiful socks and blankets, mermaid suits and slippers, for her friends and loved ones, often with wool she had carded and spun herself. As a professional musician, she loved to teach people to sing and helped many learn to play the recorder. Her cats brought her great joy, and locating a friendly home for her last cat Trinity was critical before she moved from West Branch Apartments, in Stowe, into The Manor, in Morrisville. She enjoyed the occasional beer right up to the end; her favorite was the von Trapp Helles, from the brewery founded by her brother Johannes.
As a true “character” in Stowe, Rosmarie was famous for walking everywhere, and locals marveled at her pulling her purchases home in a wagon or on a cart, often for a significant distance. She wrote so many letters to the Stowe Reporter that she was given her own space, “Rosmarie’s Corner”, where she wrote about whatever happened to pop into her head, yet there was always a deeper meaning to her stories than first met the eye. An emotionally sensitive person, Rosmarie had a keen insight and intuition as to who might benefit from her supportive ear, and she helped many people through difficult times. Her generosity led her to constantly help others, literally offering people the clothes off her back, and running low on funds herself at times, after giving money to those she felt needed it more than she did. It is impossible to keep track of all those she helped over the years, and people continue to come forward with their personal stories.
Rosmarie is survived by her brother Johannes von Trapp, the last living member of the Trapp Family Singers, and his wife Lynne, along with a multitude of nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, and grand-nephews spread out from Stowe to Norway and Austria to Australia.
A celebration of life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 5 at the Stowe Community Church, with a reception following in the Wedding Meadow at the Trapp Family Lodge. A private burial service already took place at the family’s cemetery at the Trapp Family Lodge. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Stowe Community Church. Kindness and generosity, exemplified daily by Rosmarie, are appropriate ways to pay tribute to her selfless spirit.
- Obituary republished