Lynn A. Dafoe- Rapoza
Lynn A. Dafoe Rapoza, 48, of Jamestown, passed away on Nov. 22, 2013, at her home after a courageous yearlong battle with cancer. She was the wife of long-time Jamestown resident Steven Rapoza. She is survived by her husband, parents James and Sandy Dafoe of Tallahassee, Fla., and her brother Eugene Dafoe, his wife Cathy, and their four daughters of Scottsdale, Ariz. Lynn’s biological mother, Carol A. Stewart, passed away of cancer earlier this year.
Lynn was born in Long Beach, Calif., and being of a military family traveled often, living on both coasts of the United States and abroad, including Japan, Israel and the Philippines. It was in the Philippines that she first learned to ride horses and embarked on a lifelong passion of working with what she referred to as “God’s most magnificent beast.”
Lynn graduated in 1991 from Cal Poly University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing management. After a brief career in the business world, which included turning down a promising career with PBS, Lynn returned to the ranks of hay, manure and poverty, but with a smile and the dedication of a believer following her dream. Through the grit and grime she worked her way up to manager and head trainer at Pasadena’s premier equestrian stable. The stable was one of the few U.S. facilities that cared for and promoted the rare Spanish Andalusia breed. Prior to the 1996 Rose Bowl parade, Lynn hosted a nationwide TV presentation explaining the Spanish warhorse during the inquisition and the history of the breed. During her presentation, she demonstrated the delicate talents of these large but gentle horses. She subsequently rode them in two Rose Bowl parades.
In 1999, Lynn came to the Newport area to support her ailing mother. She quickly joined the staff at Glen Farm Stables in Portsmouth. After recovering from a broken back she sustained breaking in a new hunter jumper horse, she accepted a position at Tel Aviv’s Israel international stable, where she trained European diplomats and their families. She once returned to the Newport area in 2001, where she fell in love with her husband, whom she referred to as the love of her life and soul mate. Lynn’s training continued over the years, but it was in February 2011 that she began training students full time at Morning Star Horse Farm in Saunderstown. She brought in her company, Dafoe Training, and worked there as the head trainer. This was a new venture involving herself, a live-in manager, and two of her students. Morning Star Horse Farm relied on Lynn’s extensive experience to build a schooling program.
Starting from almost nothing, she built up to training many students on four lesson horses that she purchased, plus the horses boarded at the farm. She was a versatile teacher with all ages of students and all levels of experience, teaching hunter, jumper and dressage riding techniques. Her gift was to be able to make all students feel confident and comfortable so they stayed with the sport and loved their time with the horses and with Lynn. Many students who started out a complete beginner would be going over fences in no time. Lynn had a kind soul, an in-depth knowledge of horses, and a wonderful ability to bond with everyone around her.
She ended her short time at Morning Star by purchasing a sweet and wonderful horse named Cutter, with whom she was getting into the western riding sport of reining. Lynn was able to go to one show with Cutter, about three weeks before she died. She leaves a huge hole in the hearts of everyone at Morning Star, two-legged and four-legged, but also a bright legacy to uphold and build upon.
Lynn was a member of the American Quarter Horse Association and the National Reining Horse Association. She was also actively involved with the Newport Jazz and Folk festivals, loved flower gardening, sports and animals of all types. She had a love connection with special-needs kids and the therapeutic benefits of their equestrian interactions. Her smile and energy will forever be missed.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 4 to 5 p.m. in Memorial Funeral Home, 375 Broadway, Newport. A remembrance of her life will then be held in the conference room of the Best Western across from Newport Grand.