“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” This quote from Albert Pike describes what so many in the community are feeling about the life of one of Elyria, Ohio’s most beloved men. Richard Alan Kaplan, 59, manager of Kaplan’s Furniture, a downtown family-owned institution since 1936, died Tuesday, December 10, 2012, at his home, after a valiant struggle with depression.
A devoted husband, father, businessman, philanthropist and volunteer, Rich was a kind man with a generosity of spirit that enriched the lives of every person he touched. He gave freely of his time, money and resources, as well his intangible gifts of sympathy, understanding, kindness and forgiveness – without ever expecting anything in return. Many Elyria families in need were recipients of his anonymous gifts of beds and mattresses for their children, because Rich couldn’t stand the thought of children sleeping on a cold floor.
Born in Elyria, December 26, 1952, Rich attended Ely Elementary, Northwood Junior High School and Elyria High School, graduating in 1971. He went on to attend and graduate from Bowling Green State University in 1975, with Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in business and marketing. He moved to Utah for a year, pursuing his great love of skiing and honing his people skills while working in the restaurant industry. He returned home to Elyria in 1976 to work alongside his father, Lou Kaplan, at Kaplan’s Furniture Store, where he not only learned the furniture business, but also invested himself in the community. Over the years, as he assumed more responsibility over the family furniture business, he nurtured his family and became one of Elyria’s biggest advocates of its people and organizations.
The father of three beautiful daughters, despite his very busy schedule, he always made time to attend their swim meets, soccer and volleyball games and other school and family functions. Regular family vacations made sure he carved out one-on-one time with his precious girls. Visitors to the Kaplan house could always count on a tour of his pride and joy – a perennial garden full of gorgeous flowers and his colorful koi pond fish. Like everything else in life, he lovingly shared his plants, dividing them for all to enjoy.
As a businessman, Rich Kaplan built on the personal service heritage that set the Kaplan furniture business apart from others and made it a success. Customers came to expect customer service second to none, at times experiencing a personal house call from Rich Kaplan himself to deliver furniture or fix an aging, treasured piece. A member of the Elyria Rotary Club, Rich was always donating to a good cause. Whether it was the game ball at his beloved Elyria High football games, a recliner to a band auction, or time and money to a school levy committee or the Elyria Schools Endowment Fund – Rich Kaplan always gave more than he received.
Elected to the Elyria Board of Education in 2011, Rich was always a strong advocate for youth in the community. Prior to joining the school board, Rich served on the Independent Citizens Committee, which was instrumental in the plan to renovate and rebuild Elyria High School. He chaired a 2003 school issue campaign and worked on several additional campaigns including the successful 2007 bond issue that resulted in the funding to build the $70 million high school that opened in 2010.
Rich is survived by his wife of 29 years, Debra (nee FeldKamp); loving daughters, Lindsay L. (fiance Brent L. DeCoster), Kylie and Alexandra, all of Elyria; his mother, Gilda (nee Madorsky) Kaplan; brothers, Steven of Elyria and Jeffrey of Columbus; and sister, Sharon of Dublin, Ohio. He was preceded in death by his father, Lou L. Kaplan in 2006.
The family will receive friends Wednesday, December 12, 2012, from 5 until 8 P.M., at The Laubenthal-Mercado Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 38475 Chestnut Ridge Road (at State Rt. 57), Elyria (440)322-4626, where funeral service will be at 10 A.M., Thursday, December 13, 2012. Rabbi Lauren Werber, of the Temple B’nai Abraham, will officiate. Burial will be at Brookdale Cemetery in Elyria.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Elyria Schools Endowment Fund, Rich Kaplan Memorial Scholarship Fund, The Elyria Schools Administrative Center, 42101 Griswold Road, Elyria, OH 44035.