Perna, Dengler, Roberts Funeral Home

1671 Maple Rd, Williamsville, NY


Shirley M. Rachow

February 5, 1930September 6, 2019

RACHOW - Shirley M. (nee Nevinger) September 6, 2019. Born in Batavia, NY. Graduate of SUNY at Buffalo, worked in the labs of the old E.J. Meyer, now ECMC. Over 30 years of combined volunteership, where she covered the front desk and played the piano at Millard Suburban, Roswell Park, and Greenfields. Survived by her loving husband of 65 years, Dr. Donald Rachow, MD; beloved mother of son Steve Rachow, daughter Linda (James) Rumbold and the late Carol Tokarik; cherished grandmother of 4; great-grandmother of 12; sister of Derryl (Betty) Nevinger and the late Richard (Joan) Nevinger; cherished by many nieces and nephews. The family will be present on Tuesday, September 10 at the PERNA, DENGLER, ROBERTS FUNERAL HOME, 1671 Maple Rd., Williamsville from 5-8PM. Funeral Service will be held at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Hospice Buffalo. Please share condolences www.denglerrobertspernafuneral.com

After graduating from Batavia High School in 1947, Shirley M. Nevinger enrolled in the University at Buffalo to study chemistry and biology. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in those subjects in 1952, at a time when few women studied the sciences.

"I once asked her what her parents thought of her pursuit of higher education," said her daughter, Linda Rumbold. "She told me they really didn't understand it, why would she want to study science?"

She became a licensed lab technician and a year later married Dr. Donald Rachow, a physician who had been her classmate at UB. She worked in his office until they adopted the first of their three children.

Mrs. Rachow died Sept. 6 in Buffalo General Medical Center after she was injured in a fall on Aug. 20, 2019. The Amherst resident was 89.

She was born Feb. 5, 1930, in Batavia, the middle child and only daughter of Kenneth and Gladys Nevinger. She graduated from Batavia High School in 1947 before attending the University at Buffalo.

She worked as a licensed lab technologist in the old E.J. Meyer Memorial Hospital, the forerunner to Erie County Medical Center.

She had gone on one date with Donald Rachow while they were both students at UB. When they enrolled in a course together a year later, the relationship blossomed, and they married on Oct. 3, 1953.

Mrs. Rachow worked as a lab technician and receptionist in the office of her husband, who was an internist and endocrinologist in Snyder, until they adopted their first child, Carol, in 1958. They later adopted two more children, her daughter said.

Through the adoptions, the Rachows gave their children "a family that they may have never known, a life full of good times and sometimes bad, but a family that was defined by doing the right thing for others," her daughter Linda said.

Mrs. Rachow was active in her church. Raised Baptist, she converted to Lutheranism before she married, and joined the Amherst Lutheran Church in 1959. She taught Sunday school and assisted with meals for after-school religious instruction, her daughter said.

She began to volunteer with the agency from which she adopted her children when they were in grade school. Her daughter recalled her taking her children along to visit a family with five children that she was assisting in Buffalo.

Starting in 2002, Mrs. Rachow put in more than 3,000 hours of volunteer work at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, working at the front desk and playing the piano near the surgical waiting room. She volunteered at her last shift May 22 and she planned to return before her fall, her daughter said.

She also played piano for 15 years in the lobby of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and for the residents of the dementia unit at the GreenFields Manor in Lancaster for more than 10 years, her daughter said.

She loved music and playing the organ, piano and guitar. She enjoyed attending performances of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and going to Artpark, MusicalFare Theatre, Studio Arena, Shea's Performing Arts Center and Radio City Music Hall.

The Rachows traveled extensively, visiting Hong Kong, Japan, Egypt, India, Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Barbados, the Swiss Alps, the Panama Canal, the Mediterranean and Russia. She loved to visit Florida, and the couple often visited Little Dix Bay in the British Virgin Islands. In 2013, 60 years after their honeymoon at Split Rock in the Poconos, the Rachows went there for a second honeymoon.

She enjoyed get-togethers at the family property on Conesus Lake, where "Aunt Shirley" welcomed the extended family with music, games, laughter and good cooking, sometimes from family recipes.

"Modest and private, she underestimated just what her effect was on this world and she greatly underestimated her effect on our lives," her daughter said.

Her oldest daughter, Carol Tokarik, died in March 2005.

In addition to her daughter Linda Rumbold and husband, Donald, Mrs. Rachow is survived by her son Steve; her brother, Derryl Nevinger; four grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

A private funeral was held Sept. 11 in Amherst Lutheran Church.


  • Hospice Buffalo


  • Memorial Visitation Tuesday, September 10, 2019


Shirley M. Rachow

have a memory or condolence to add?

Amber Nevinger

September 11, 2019

I remember going to Aunt Shirley and Uncle Dons for a super bowl party and she was doing the squares.

It was adorable and you got like 15 squares for a dollar or something like that.

I couldn’t stay for the whole game but a few days later Aunt Shirley sent me a letter with $2 telling me that I was a big winner!!

I think anytime anyone spent with Aunt Shirley was special - I loved going to her house for pool parties as a kid and of course going to the Lake.

She was the very definition of a classy lady and anyone who knew her was better for it.

Charlene Merle

September 8, 2019

There are so many great memories it’s hard to choose just one. The most recent was just a couple months ago when Linda was teaching her to FaceTime, it was priceless! Love you Aunt Shirley, give a Dad, Granny and Gramps hugs from me!

Norman Nevinger

September 8, 2019

I remember when we would go to Aunt Shirley and Uncle Don's house for Thanksgiving. They would cook like 2 big turkeys and all the trimmings. One Thanksgiving we even played the Olympics with everyone.
I loved when she would say Donald Sparkles needs to go outside and tinkle.
She is an inspiration to all of us and an all around genuine person.

Christine Snell

September 8, 2019

I remember going swimming at her house and then having lunch every summer. I remember scrapping our fingers and toes on the bottom and sides of the pool and getting blisters that hurt but we ALWAYS did it. And don't forget the red eyes from swimming underwater with your eyes open. Aunt Shirley always put on the best spread of food and you always had novelty ice cream after swimming for a while. She was a wonderful lady and I'm so glad she was in our family. Love ya Aunt Shirley, fly high and watch over us.

Steve Rachow

September 8, 2019

Boy did she hate snakes. One day, when I was in grade school, I caught a little snake on the playground after school. I put it in my lunchbox and brought it home. I went into the kitchen and told her to guess what was in my lunch pale. She jokingly said “a snake”. Her scream, when she opened it to find that there was indeed a snake, could have woken the dead. From that day forward she would instead say “there better not be a snake”.
Love you mom

Christa Perfitt

September 7, 2019

Grandma was an incredible woman. One of my favorite things about her was her love for music. She was an amazing piano player, though very humble, and would play Christmas carols as we all sang along piano side with her. She had such a great love for her family, so to watch her be able to continue the same tradition with her great-grandchildren as well was incredibly special. I hope to be half the mom, grandma, and great-grandma she was. There is a deep void in our hearts without her.

Jessica Rachow-Pangrazio

September 7, 2019

Grandma loved to travel. She would take photos of everyone and the beauty of the places she visited. When we went to Wyoming to visit, she frequently had Grandpa pull the car over to get a photo. We knew when we were about to stop when she said, “I feel a picture coming on!” She loved every drop of life. I hope to be like her.