We’re here today to mourn the passing but also to honor and cherish the life of Marvin Caplan, beloved father and grandfather and uncle and cherished friend. We are sad and frankly shocked with the suddenness with which this happened. I have to tell you that while Marvin certainly has had his medical problems, I had no idea that this was about to happen. He was very much himself, holding court, cruising around the Arden House.
But we have to focus not on his death but his life, and that’s what we’re going to do.
He was born here in New Haven at Grace New Haven on May 29th 1934. He grew up with his brothers Norman and Howard who would always be close. We mourn today with Heather, Norman’s daughter. Howard, the younger brother, even lived with Marvin sometimes. We mourn with Shelly, Jonathan and Michael today.
If he was your friend he was your friend for life. He and David Casper and Stuart Grodd went back to first grade together, and Marvin was the big one who had to defend his friends against bullies who were mean to Jewish kids. One of his friends trusted him with gold and silver bars that he left in his basement.
As his friends grew up and traveled in different circles, he went with them, and they would not have had it any other way.
Marvin graduated Hillhouse and went to the Boardman Trade School to be an electrician. He served in the army and was a Linesman, climbing telephone poles after World War. But he was Marvin and he was always pulling things. For example, he would eat peas and get sick so would have to go to the infirmary.
He worked at New Haven Glass and then Marvin Glass and then A and E.
He worked in glass, which was sort of fitting because he was completely transparent. You always knew where you stood with him because he would tell you in no uncertain terms. We talk about people not having a filter. He didn’t want to have a filter. Was that always a good thing? If we’re going to tell the truth, we have to say no, it was not always a good thing to be so direct. Like when he coded at the hospital and he came to, to see an Asian doctor. He said: “You came all the way from China just to irritate me?”
You will never meet anyone like Marvin Caplan. I know a lot of people, and I will tell you straight: Marvin was unique.
Everyone knows that Marvin’s straight shooting could have a rough edge. But I want to remind you that I had a very different, soft, teddy bear side, too. So one time, my daughter Rachel cracked the expensive glass in our living room coffee table and Marvin came and measured it and brought a new plate. And then my boys were playing ball and cracked the same glass and Marvin came back and did it again. He could see I wasn’t too happy about it, so this was the one time, maybe the only time, but the one time, that he did not razz me.
So let me tell you the story of Marvin and Anita. It was the week before New Year’s in 1961 and Anita was dressed to go to a party. Marvin took a look and asked her, “Do you have a date for New Year’s Eve?” She did. He told her to break it. She did eventually break it. After a great New Year’s Eve with friends, he was driving her home but instead they drove to the beach and talked till 6 in the morning. The next night he had a different date. He excused himself, called Anita and said, “I miss you.” And she said, “No more than I miss you.”
They were married on Oct. 8, 1961
On Oct. 9th he was recalled to the army and was in for sic months before they realized it was a mistake.
Marvin and Anita lost their four parents in 10 months. They went through everything together, always loyal and supportive. They stuck by each other through many ups and downs in life. Anita and Marvin have been members of our shul since August, 1971. They were married for 53 years. They were best friends all those years.
At the end of her obituary, Marvin wrote:
I Love You. I Love You. I Love You.
Marvin was her devoted husband and best friend.
Their honor for their parents rewarded by the loyalty and goodness and attention of their son Stuart. I don’t know how they would have lived without his help during these last years. He has made many sacrifices to take care of them. As all of us who have cared for aged parents know, there are times when the pressure is simply overwhelming. Stuart has been exemplary, every day, every week, for all these years now.
On the lighter side, Anita taught Stuart how to drive because learning with Marvin was not so easy.
If you know Marvin, you can just imagine.
But I will always remember that Marvin was Stuart’s best man at his wedding to Jean.
Jean respected Marvin and Anita for raising such an amazing son, father and husband. Marvin was so happy for Stuart and Jean when they had their children and built their home and family.
Jean gave her in-laws the greatest gifts, Caleb and Tema. How Marvin adored just being near them. Marvin’s greatest joy was his family, especially the two grandchildren. Marvin didn’t think he was ever going to have grandchildren, and Caleb and Tema made their zaydie feel cherished. We know that this is very hard on them and we wish the whole family comfort.
Above all to Stuart we say, We wish you strength and comfort at this terrible time. And thank you for being such a wonderful son.
And to Jean and Caleb and Tema, thank you for giving Marvin a feeling of completeness and for giving him a future.
May Marvin rest in peace, next to Anita. Let us say Amen.