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Richard Mark Caplan passed away at home in Chicago the morning of July 28th 2020 from complications related to Parkinson's Disease. He was born November 16th, 1946 in New Haven, Connecticut to George and Sally (nee Halprin) Caplan.
Richard grew up in New Haven and neighboring Woodbridge, developing a broad talent for art and a deep interest in technology. As a young man he designed and built a cabin by hand with the help of close friends, still standing in the New Hampshire mountains. Richard fully embraced the 1960s, attending the Woodstock Music Festival ("Of course I was there. Everybody was there.") and playing guitar as a member of the band the Icemen in Boston. He frequented the legendary Boston Tea Party music club where his dear friend Frank Fine was the manager, and where Richard took the opportunity one night to improv on stage with B.B. King, an experience he never forgot.
Richard graduated from Boston University with a degree in Psychology ('69), then continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he earned degrees in Painting ('74) and Architecture ('75) and studied woodworking with the Danish master craftsman Tage Frid.
After earning his degree in Architecture, Richard moved to Chicago with his first wife, Judy, to begin his career and start a family. He worked first at SOM and then spent 15 years at Lohan Associates, where he led the IBM project in Endicott, New York, the IRS Detroit Computing Center, the University of Illinois at Chicago Molecular Biology Research Center, and the major renovation of the Everett McKinley Dirksen Building Federal Center, for which he was proud to receive a GSA Award for Design Excellence and an Engineering News Record award for structural engineering excellence. During this time Richard met his second wife, Tracy, with whom he had two more children. Richard then spent eight years working at Northeastern Illinois University on major campus renovation projects. In 2005 he joined STL Architects, where he led their Developer Services program until 2010, after which he retired permanently due to problems related to Parkinson's.
Fascinated with technology, Richard owned the earliest of personal computers and devices, including an original Apple Macintosh and a still-working TRS-80 Model 100. In the late 1980s, Richard frequented the Computer Exchange, an informal computer parts exchange run by University of Chicago students out of their dorm, buying parts from "the bathtub" to build computers at home. As early as 1990, Richard would show friends the blinking green cursor that was his connection to the nascent internet, invariably getting the response "I don't get it - what exactly are you connected to?" He recognized the potential of computers to make art early on, altering photographs and creating original digital pieces printed to canvas.
Richard's love of food and traveling were in perfect harmony. Although he was raised in New England with a taste for fried clams and square pizza, he quickly acclimated to Chicago Style hot dogs and deep dish pizza. He traveled in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia, sampling local cuisine along the way. On his last trip, to New England in 2015 to visit his sister Roberta, Richard had fried clams and Sally's Pizza for the last time. Throughout his life, Richard was known to enjoy rum, cigars, model trains, RC helicopters, blues and jazz, but always hated humidity.
Richard was a gentle soul, a lifelong artist and maker who had a keen sensitivity to and understanding of the world around him. Facile in almost any media, Richard brought beauty into the world through music, painting, drawing, photography, technology, furniture and fine woodworking, creating pieces that always had that certain je ne sais quois. Favorite works include his Banana Man and Junkyard hand-tinted photographs, his solar alarm clock featuring tunable synthesized birdsong for waking one at sunrise, and various handmade wood and brass mechanical devices serving no functional purpose whatsoever. Generally quiet in nature, Richard's thoughtful conversation and dry, quirky sense of humor were appreciated by those who knew him.
He is survived by his wife Tracy and his four children, Seth (Kristen Kolada), Rachel (Jeremy Gansner), Gustav, and Sally; his sister Roberta (Caplan) Goldstein, and grandchildren George, Shiloh, Eloise, Lila and Louis. He will be greatly missed.
Services will be held Monday, August 3rd at 2 pm. To keep everyone safe and healthy, the chapel service will be for family only. To attend the funeral live-stream, please visit our website. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation to the Parkinson's Foundation, 1359 Broadway, Ste 1509, New York, NY 10018, www.parkinson.org
Arrangements by Chicago Jewish Funerals - Skokie Chapel, 847.229.8822, www.cjfinfo.com