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Mount Sinai Obituaries and Services » Richard E. Kaplan

Richard E. Kaplan

July 4, 1938 - April 17, 2018

Service Information Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills - Mount Sinai Chapel

Service Date: Friday April 20th, 2018

Service Time: 2:00 pm

Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills - Mount Sinai Chapel

5950 Forest Lawn Drive

Los Angeles, California 90068

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Richard Emanuel Kaplan (July 4, 1938- April 17, 2018)


Richard “Dick” Kaplan died Tuesday morning in Pasadena.


He grew up in Upper Darby, PA with his parents, Albert and Eleanor, and sisters Joan and Judy. He was a bright, athletic, and popular student: class president, most likely to succeed, varsity football and track. He was a National Merit Scholar in 1956 and earned a full scholarship to MIT. After Sputnik, he decided to become an aerospace engineer.


He met his wife Naomi “Mimi” Greenfield at a Hillel mixer. She always remembered how contented he looked that evening eating a bagel. They married in 1960 and in 1963 their daughter Hilary was born.


In 1964, after he earned a Doctorate of Science from MIT, they drove across the country (outran a tornado in Kansas) to teach in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at USC. He promptly bought USC football season tickets and attended every home game for the next 40 years. Their son David was born in 1966.


He did pioneering work on turbulence and jet noise, had two Fulbright Research Scholarships and two visiting professorships at Aix-Marseilles Université (1971) and Tel Aviv University (1975). He then devoted himself to academic administration: Department Chair, Associate Dean of Engineering, Vice-Provost of Academic Computing. From 1993-1995 he was the Director of the NSF Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure. He felt strongly about helping the next generation of scholars.


When his first grandchild Asher was born in 1998, he transformed into ZayZay and took on an entirely new identity. Then came Ellie, then Claire, and after Milo he changed his license plate to ZayZay4. He lived out the sad years after Mimi passed in 2011 in happy proximity to Hilary, his son-in-law Bret, and three of his four grandchildren. He loved nothing more than playing with them, picking them up from school, and hearing their stories – anything to be with them! We will all miss his warm smile, quick wit, and genuine humanity.