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Bill Caplan 1932 - 2013

Funeral Services were held Thursday, January 17th at Peninsula Temple Sholom, and we, the Caplan Family, were honored by the number of people that came to honor the life of Bill.

While he passed peacefully, he lived with multiple myeloma for the last 5 years, and was very thankful for the recent progress and medical advancements in the field that made living with an incurable disease manageable. For those wishing to make a donation in his memory, the family has requested that you make a donation to The UCSF Grand Multiple Myeloma Translational Initiative which is at the forefront of researching and developing innovative treatments for multiple myeloma.

"Gifts to the Grand MMTI will benefit countless patients and serve as a meaningful tribute to Bill's memory. We are grateful for all of your support," says Dr. Jeffrey Wolf, Professor of Clinical Medicine and Director of the Multiple Myeloma Program at UCSF.

"My father always spoke glowingly of the doctors at UCSF," says surviving son Rob Caplan. "He found them willing and enthusiastic when discussing which of their latest advances might be appropriate for his treatment. As a patient, he always felt heard and cared for. Dr. Wolf and team at UCSF did a great job at keeping his disease in check for many years, and my family will always be grateful."


Thank you to all of you who have called, written, or visited our store to offer your condolences in this challenging time. Your words have been a great comfort and a constant reminder of how much Bill meant to so many. For those who were unable to attend Bill's memorial service we want to share with you some of the words spoken by his family that day.

Since my Father so unexpectedly passed away I've been contemplating all of what he meant to me and along with it why he meant so much to so many. He was not just my Dad, but my business partner for the last 30 years, my confidant, my best friend, and most importantly my main role model as I navigate my way through life.

Since his passing, so many people have told me how important my dad was to them. People always describe him the same way: smart, confident, sensitive, with a knack for making everybody he came in contact with feel important and valued.

For those of you who know me, you know that I absolutely love to ski. (a sport that I grew up learning with my Dad.) Over the years I've come to understand that a big reason that I love skiing, is the way it forces me to be in the moment. It is one of the only things I do that while I'm doing it I can't think of anything else. For me it's an interesting phenomena-- terrain becomes clearer, time seems to move slower, I see subtle differences in snow texture. In the moments that I'm on the steepest pitches, my thoughts always seem to me to be pure, the decisions I make have very immediate cause and effect, and in a strange way I always feel sheltered by the mountain.

My father had that magical ability to focus and be present in almost any situation and on a daily basis. When I (or for that matter anyone) talked with him or worked with him, he was always engaged, and consistently present in the moment. I think his thoughtfulness was rooted in that ability to focus. I know he had as many distractions in his life as I have in mine, yet with him, those obstacles were somehow left behind while he thought about and analyzed the situation at hand. I think so many of my Dad's interactions were like a beautiful ski run, his intense focus allowed him to analyze problems and people in a clear thoughtful way. Creative thoughts and solutions to difficult problems almost always came to him through his ability to think through what the heart of the issue is. Whether he was listening to his own family, his Topper family, or his friends, discussions with him were always focused and detailed and solution-oriented. It didn't matter whether you were talking about work, politics, personal matters, school, or any subject---no matter what was going on my dad always made time to listen and talk things through and do his best to help out.

In the same way that the mountain sheltered me, my Dad provided unconditional 24/7 shelter. As I live the next chapter of my life, the one without my Dad, I hope that I can continue to grow and someday be as patient, kind, and as present as he was in his daily life.

Russ Caplan (son)


I am confident that if I handed my father a draft of a speech that was too sentimental or too sad, he'd hand it back and tell me to lighten it up. For some reason I can't stop thinking about what he thought about movies like "Ordinary People" and I remember him saying "It was beautiful, it was very well done, and I left the theater feeling terrible."

In a way, I'm confident he'd want us to make this service as uplifting as possible Unfortunately, there's no way around it. We all feel terrible and will for some time. My father was a remarkable man, and we will never forget him, nor will we want to.

Even though he was 80 years old, it almost feels like he was taken in his prime. After all, during the last week of his life, like all the other weeks, he worked 6 days and probably got more work done than Russ and I combined.

Sometimes the deepest glimpse we can get into how someone lived their day to day life can be gleaned from a relative stranger's perception of that person. Everyone in this room knew my dad, we all loved him and he loved us, but I wanted to read you an entry posted on the watch forum Watchuseek once word had spread of his passing. This man had just met Bill on Saturday and wrote the following.

"I bought my first watch at Topper's this Saturday. Your father noticed my 49er hat and we immediately started up a conversation. This was a big purchase for me and one I don't get to do often enough. While everyone was very helpful he made the experience fun for my wife and kids who mostly just wanted to go get cupcakes at Copenhagen. My 7 year old thought it was cool that your father still went to work. We had a fun talk about how if you love what you do it isn't really work, and even at 7 I think he could see your father loved working..."

I consider myself lucky to have gotten to work with my father 6 days a week for the last 12 years. And to a large extent it hasn't felt like work at all.

Rob Caplan (son)


Dad, I love you, and your wise owl ways. It was our thing, you and I. I would call you a wise owl, and you would say, in an animated voice, "who, who". You were always the smartest person I knew. It's just so hard to believe that you're gone and how quickly everything has changed.

What I will miss the most is our talks about life, family, business, history and politics; injustices, solutions, your sometimes unsolicited but always astute and eventually appreciated advice, and your sense of humor. You were so engaged in whatever was going on with me, Ken , Ryan and Zack, as well as tales of our many pets. It was so wonderful to have your constant interest in the kid's studies, their sports, -- their lives.

I treasure how you were a very patient, available and gifted advisor in all things. Such a loving and attentive husband to mom, and an involved and wonderful father to me,Ken, Russ, Mylene and Rob.

I can see how many people thought of you as Grandpa, dad or friend, and how you touched them too, with your ability to really understand their lives and circumstances, while sharing wisdom from your own.

I will always love you, my adorable wise owl dad.

Debby Rosenfeld (daughter)


Brett:
It's hard to describe someone that means so much to you in any amount of words let alone so few. Grandpa Bill was as amazing a grandfather as any one could ask for. He truly was all of his grandchildren's biggest fans. I remember a couple of weeks ago he was telling Aly and me how amazing and rare it was that all four of his grandchildren had been so successful academically and how proud this made him. I attribute so much of my academic success to him. Grandpa was one of the smartest people I have ever known. He loved all subjects, but especially math. We always joked that if you asked grandpa what 2+2 was, he would somehow end up explaining to you how to find the area of a complex geometric shape or how to derive a complex mathematical formula. Unfortunately, this wasn't so helpful when we were in kindergarten. His love of math led Aly and me to instate the famous "no math at the dinner table" rule, which he only sometimes followed. He had a fierce love for everything academic. I'm going to deeply miss the countless hours we spent together debating the causes of the fall of the Roman empire, giving each other book suggestions, and talking politics. Grandpa Bill loved coming to my Mock Trial matches, and was so enthralled by the competition that he would read the entire 80 page legal case I was assigned and come back to me with unique legal arguments I could incorporate into my case. Grandpa Bill was my secret weapon- an eager to help Harvard-law trained Grandpa just a phone call away.

Aly:
Last year I had to take Organic Chemistry as part of my pre-medical requirements and had a hard time with it in my first semester. After hearing about this Grandpa Bill purchased the same Organic Chemistry textbook we use at Brown, and taught himself the subject so that he would be able to help me with it. If anyone here has been forced to take Organic Chemistry, they can attest to just how difficult it is. Every Sunday this past summer I would go over to Grammy and grandpa's house to study Organic Chemistry with Grandpa Bill. While I can definitely say that I was far more excited by the chance to spend time with grandpa and of course by the prospect of Grammy's tuna sandwiches then by Organic Chemistry, I can't begin to explain how amazing it was that grandpa Bill cared so much about my success that he was willing to learn Organic Chemistry at 80.

Brett:
Grandpa Bill was also our biggest fan athletically. He coached nearly all of my teams in Little League, rarely missed one of Aly's many Softball, Volleyball, or Soccer games, and often talked about how proud he was of Ryan and Zach's dedication to and success with soccer.

Aly:
Grandpa Bill took me to my softball batting lessons for almost ten years. He often called me on the phone to tell me he had been thinking about my swing and that if I made a certain adjustment he was sure I would get those extra five feet on the ball to make it go over the fence.

Brett:
There are so many things we are going to miss about our grandpa. His riveting stories, his sense of humor, but mostly just spending time talking with him whatever the subject might be. Grandpa Bill was always eager to learn. Eager to read a new book, to analyze a legal case, to understand Organic Chemistry, but more than that, he was always eager to listen to what everyone had to say.

Aly:
While it is hard to imagine our lives without him I know that he could not have been any prouder of his grandchildren, and we could not have loved him any more.

Aly & Brett Caplan (grandchildren)


I'll miss you Grandpa Bill. I will never forget all of the memories that you and I shared. Whether it was about sports, politics, or history, conversations with you were always interesting. You've influenced my life in so many ways. Always trying to be involved, you made your presence continually felt, despite the 2,000 miles between us. You were always interested in what was going on in my life, always supportive, and always willing to to give me advice. One example, of many, is that you came up with the idea for me to do strength training to help me with soccer, which so far has had great effects. Thank you so much for everything you've given me. Whenever I was here, you were always willing to stop what you were doing to play a game of chess with me or engage in a discussion. I'll never forget you at the breakfast table, reading off of your mug, saying "I don't do perky!" The grin would always give you away. I love you, and I'll miss you dearly. Rest in peace.

Ryan Rosenfeld (grandson)


I loved Grandpa so much. I'm going to miss everything about him. I know that you'll be watching over us in our journeys throughout our lives.

Zack Rosenfeld (grandson)


While we lived in California, and since I lived so far away from my parents, I treasured that I had a Mom and Dad right here. I never really ever considered Dad my father-in-law. He was just family. Dad was a wonderful person to talk and be with, and a terrific grandfather to our boys. Anything going on in our family, particularly with sports and pets, would generate lively conversation. His depth of knowledge on so many subjects, and in particular his love of history, amazed me and i learned much from him.

More recently, I welcomed the opportunity to talk with Dad about business as I too became an entrepreneur. He helped me many times through the struggles that many businesses go through and I welcomed his sage input.

I will miss my Dad.

Ken Rosenfeld (son-in-law)


I knew Bill for 55 years. I was at his wedding. He was a man with a combination of intellect, honesty, humor, and support. His moral compass was extraordinary. When I called on him for help and advice, he was always there for me. With an amazing ability to dissect and concentrate on the problems I brought to him (which were many). His interests covered a broad range, and he shared most of them with me. History, especially Ancient Rome, was an interest we shared. He recommended a book to me recently (The Swerve), about a Roman named Lucretius, who wrote in 50 BC about modern things, like atoms, sex, religion, and pleasure. Bill was a rock to me. He will be sorely missed.

Frank Kraft (brother-in-law)