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Richard M. Caplan

Iowa City

Richard M. Caplan, 90, of Iowa City, died Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, at home. Funeral services will begin at
2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, at Agudas Achim congregation, 401 E. Oakdale Blvd., Coralville. Following the burial in the Agudas Achim Cemetery, friends and
family will return to the synagogue to
share a meal of condolence.
Memorial contributions, in lieu of flowers, will be welcome to the University
of Iowa Foundation (music fund), Agudas Achim Congregation or a charity of the donor's choice.
Dick was born in Des Moines, on July 16, 1929, the son of Carl and Iylene (Lambe) Caplan. A proud graduate of East High School, Dick earned a B.S. degree from Iowa State College and M.A. and M.D. degrees from the State University of Iowa. Following military service in the U.S. Air Force and residency training in dermatology at the University of Michigan Medical Center, Dick joined the faculty of the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 1961 in dermatology, advancing to professor in 1969, where he continued to serve until retirement in 1997. From 1969 to 1991 he also served half time as associate sean for Continuing Medical Education. His curiosity and creativity were widespread, with interests in science and medicine, education, arts, humanities, philanthropy and travel, but none more than attention to his family, its well-being and development.
Among honors he received from many organizations and service on a great many committees, he took special pride in the following:
1.) the Hancher-Finkbine Medallion recognizing leadership, learning, and loyalty as a UI professor (1992)
2.) the Michael J. Brody Award for Faculty Excellence in Service to the University and the state of Iowa (1993)
3.) the establishment of the Richard M. Caplan Chair in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities (1997)
4.) the Educator of the Year award from the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians (1979)
5.) the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the UI College of Medicine (2011)
6.) election as vice president of the American Dermatological Society (1985)
7.) election as secretary, then vice president, then president of the Society of Medical College Directors of Continuing Medical Education (1978-82)
8.) his founding within the UI College of Medicine of two persisting programs he considered of special value: a) MECO -- the program for post-freshman students to experience Iowa community practice, and b.) the Program in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities, in which he participated for many years.
His published material includes three books, 132 articles, 26 book reviews, 14 book chapters, 239 short monthly essays about education for the Journal of the Iowa Medical Society, plus many other letters, notes, exhibits and learning aids.
In addition to his professional interests, Dick was a lifelong musician, frequently performing as a piano soloist, playing with chamber-music friends, or as a dance-band, jazz ensemble or cocktail-lounge pianist, or as clarinetist or piano soloist with the Iowa City New Horizons Senior Citizens Band. In retirement he began to generate transcriptions of short classical pieces, largely for piano solo, which were performed with friends as cello-piano duets, or other combinations featuring the flute, ultimately achieving a library of more than 300 works. Through the years, he served the Iowa City Community Theatre as an actor on stage and more importantly, as music director for eight of its musical shows. As a fan of Sherlock Holmes, Dick was a member of the Baker Street Irregulars (investiture as Dr. Jackson), the founder/long-term director of the Younger Stamfords of Iowa City, and the author of a book of fiction and articles about Holmes. As a completely new activity in retirement he learned the rudiments of being a visual artist, and generated many drawings and canvases. He had opportunities for widespread travel which he enjoyed for its merits in expanding his pleasing efforts as a lifelong learner.
His surviving family includes his wife, Ellen (married June 15, 1952); their sons, David (Joni), Joel (Nancy), Daniel (Terri) and Aaron (Leah Lee) Caplan; grandchildren, Benjamin, Ilan (Anna) and Tamar Caplan, Shoshannah (Joseph) Eggers and Simona (Joshua) Savitt; great-granddaughters, Norah and Arden Caplan and Tal Savitt; his sister, Betty Rosse and her son, Steve Rosse.
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