Obituary | Pamela Wells Rafanelli, 1946 – 2023

Pamela Wells Rafanelli passed away peacefully on August 27 in Carnelian Bay, California. Born July 24, 1946 in Oakland, California to Walter M. Wells, Jr. and Mary Louise Wells, Pam spent her youth in Corte Madera and Santa Rosa. She and her brother, Steve Wells, were very close and treasured their family camping and fishing adventures.

Pam graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in History and French, and her passion for learning history and languages through books, museums, and travel continued her entire life. Pam began her life-long teaching career in Cupertino before moving to Piedmont in 1973. During the early years of teaching, she earned a master’s degree in education, specializing in early childhood learning differences. Pam was a beloved teacher to generations of students who attended Havens or Beach School during the 39 years in which she taught in the Piedmont Unified School District, and she had a particular love for teaching second grade.

In addition to being a dedicated teacher, Pam raised four daughters, participated in multiple book clubs, hiked and cycled across California, volunteered at the Oakland Museum of California, and traveled the world. This past May, Pam took Paris by storm as she participated in an art history trip, climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and walked miles each day to revisit some of her favorite museums and sites. One of Pam’s favorite places in the world was Lake Tahoe. Her lakeside home offered her a stunning view of the lake and mountains and allowed her to sip her morning mug of coffee from a kayak in the waters of Carnelian Bay.

Pam was an incredible baker and cook. She made ravioli from scratch for family reunions, baked baguettes for family dinners, and created desserts for every get-together. She knew to bake twice as many holiday cookies as were needed, since half disappeared during the family decorating process. Pam’s greatest joy came from spending time with any (or all!) of her thirteen grandchildren. She loved to be with family — whether for holidays, birthdays, school “grandparent day” events, or for no special reason at all.

Pam surrounded by her daughters (from left) Stephanie, Katie, Gina and Sarah.

Pam is predeceased by her parents, her brother, Steve, and her former spouse, Mark. Pam is survived by her daughter Stephanie and son-in-law Andrew Backer and their three children, Tucke, Oliver, and Emma; daughter Sarah and son-in-law Wyeth Goodenough and their three children, Sadie, Reese, and Ellis; daughter Gina and son-in-law Jason Flynn and their four children, Scottie, Sofia, Mark, and Luke; daughter Katie and son-in-law Colin Mistele and their three children, Olivia, Drew, and Grace.

In keeping with Pam’s wishes, there will be no public memorial service. To celebrate Pam’s life and her passion for teaching and education, her daughters will make meaningful gifts to Beach Elementary School and the Oakland Museum of California in her name. 

6 thoughts on “Obituary | Pamela Wells Rafanelli, 1946 – 2023

  1. Pam was a dear friend and fellow hiker who joined me on many hikes on the mountain trails around Truckee and North and West Shore of Lake Tahoe. First she joined me with sweet Bella … then it was Hershey. Such precious memories. She regularly attended the viewing of the Truckee 4th of July Parade from our office together with friends. I was so fortunate to be the one to find the special GEM in Carnelian Bay that Pam called home. She was traveling when I called her and said I found your house. Such an honor! I am so GRATEFUL I got to know and share time with this special lady who left us tooooo soon! Rest in peace dear Pam!

  2. Pam was an avid reader and founding member of the Beach Teachers ‘R Readers Bookclub (which was renamed Kitty’s Bookclub ) and continued to participate in the bookclub long past her retirement. We valued her insight and her ready laughter. She was such a knowledgeable reader adding breadth to every discussion. She will be sorely missed!

  3. My wife and I were Pam’s next door neighbor’s at Tahoe. So sorry to hear of her passing. We still remember seeing her on her paddleboard, usually before 7am, as she navigated the smooth morning waters of Lake Tahoe. She definitely seemed to enjoy the best of the Lake and seemed to really embrace her curiosity for learning about and doing new things. I wish time would have allowed us to get to know her better.

  4. Pam was a wonderful person and very gifted teacher. She will be missed, but also fondly remembered. One of a kind. Rest in Peace, Pam.

  5. I am hoping that this comment finds its way to Pam’s daughter(s). I was a member of Pam’s bike “posse”; we are all deeply saddened and shocked at this tragic news. We shared so many wonderful times together biking around the Bay Area and beyond, and will really miss Pam’s presence and contributions to our lives. I am sending my sincere condolences to Pam’s family, and would love to have any information the family is willing to share about the end of our dear friend’s life. Thank you.

  6. So sorry to hear about Mrs. Raf’s passing. She taught all of my boys at Beach and was such a gifted and kind teacher and just a lovely person.

Leave a Reply

The Exedra comments section is an essential part of the site. The goal of our comments policy is to help ensure it is a vibrant yet civil space. To participate, we ask that Exedra commenters please provide a first and last name. Please note that comments expressing congratulations or condolences may be published without full names. (View our full Comments Policy.)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *