Remembering Ron Kaplan
It is with profound sadness that I must share with you the passing of Ron Kaplan. Since the summer of 1982, Ron has been a legend at Beber Camp, positively impacting and inspiring thousands of Beber campers and staff.
Ron was known by everyone as he was involved in so many aspects of camp. His passion for basketball was always on display. Ron loved playing during GA with campers and especially with staff during Shabbat prep and early Saturday mornings, usually sporting Syracuse gear. During Maccabiah, Ron loved officiating the basketball games. Most recently, Ron led the basketball officiating hobby and, on a personal note, inspired my son Ben to work for my local park district as a referee.
You could always count on Ron to run an errand. Some might say Ron was “Mayor of Mukwonago,” as he was known by all in the local community — the postal workers, Walmart employees, local doctors and pharmacists, and, of course, food vendors. If you were lucky enough to get a ride to the local doctor’s office with Ron, you would definitely have an ice cream at Dairy Queen or Charlie’s Shake Shop afterwards. I will never forget enjoying an ice cream treat with him when I was a CIT in 1988.
Families that drove to camp on pick-up and drop-off days would remember Ron as the first person to greet families as they drove down the hill to lower camp. His good nature and humor made for a perfect way to enter camp.
For me, there will never be another Ron. I fondly recall being a young camper and playing softball against the admin staff. He was dressed like a New York Yankee and I would secretly hope he would hit a home run over the wall. I savored our basketball games together and it meant so much to me that I was able to play in real competitive games with him and my 2 sons, Ben and Jack. Ron taught me how to play craps, gave me romance advice, and showed me how to savor every bite of my meals. The Wisconsin State Fair cream puff was OUR special treat together and it will be bittersweet to bite into one in the summer of 2021.
Our love and support go out to his wife, Cheryl, and his three daughters, Kim, Amy, and Ashley. Ron was honored to celebrate the Bat Mitzvahs of his first two granddaughters, Maddie and Emily, in Crown Hall.
With much love, sadness, and many fond memories,
Beber Camp Director
Remembrances of Ron Kaplan
Becky Altman, Beber Camp Director, 2015-2018
Our community has lost an incredibly special person and friend. Ron has been a fixture in my life and camp career since my first summer at Beber in 1984. He filled my camper, staff and director years with love and support and made some of my hardest days easier. His loyalty, sense of humor and passion for life are just some of the things I will miss. I will cherish the memories of Ron and my dad on the cow couch in Cheryl’s office alternating between bad jokes, catnaps, and bonding over a shared love of laundry and pride in their children and grandchildren. Thank you, Ron, for knowing when to make me laugh, when to give me a hug and for loving me and my family as if we were your own. You will be missed more than you know.
Stefan Teodosic, Beber Camp Director, 2006-2014
To me, Ron Kaplan is Beber Camp. He is as iconic as the blue swing and the 72 steps and has been core to my experience for the past 15 years. He and Cheryl have been a part of the community for 37 years and it’s fair to say, that they have been an integral part of everyone’s experience. Ron was usually the first and last face that people saw as they entered and left camp at the top of the hill on opening and last day of camp. What an amazing way to start and end your summer in one of the most amazing, transformational, kind places on earth…with a smile, a joke or a hug from one of the most amazing, transformational and kindest man on earth.
Ron was a special man, who knew how to connect with everyone from the youngest campers and first time staff, to full time staff and local business owners. It could be doing laundry, playing or refereeing basketball, running errands in town or handing out staff bank – he just clicked with people. More importantly, he wanted to connect with everyone, to get to know them and share of himself as well. He was interesting, with story upon story to tell, and he was interested in what people had to say, giving them his full attention and really listening.
Ron loved Cheryl, his girls and their kids and wore it on his sleeve, openly, honestly and without question. He was such a wonderful role model for generations of kids and staff at Beber Camp. I learned so much from him about life, being a leader, a father and a husband. Ron was larger than life and he impacted people far more then even he could ever know. We are all better off for having known him. His smile, laugh and sense of humor were legendary and the world is a little less light, airy and fun without him in it. I am going to miss Ron. I will miss seeing him in the dining hall, playing catch with him, sitting on the cow couch with him, running Marsh Road with him, supervising the Beber Camp casino night craps table with him, driving on errands with him, eating with him and just talking to him.
The work he did on behalf of Beber Camp was so important, his impact so large, and we wouldn’t be half the organization we are without him. Generations of kids and staff got the benefit of knowing Ron and we are all grateful for it. And when I drop my kids off for their first Beber Camp experiences, I will stop for a minute at the top of the hill, remember Ron, thank him and wish he could be there welcoming us in.
Danielle Litt Weinstein, Beber Camp Director, 2001-2005
Some of you may know him as “Walmart Ron” or “Laundry Ron.” To me, he was my friend Ronnie. My office mate, my running buddy, and my Blue Bay breakfast partner. I loved everything about him. I loved his quirky jokes, his silly smile, his incredible hugs when he would squeeze me with his big belly, the way he enjoyed food (especially the poo-poo platter), how he could sleep just about anywhere (but mostly in a car even if the ride was only 5 minutes), his great fatherly advice, how he loved being on the basketball court even on the HOTTEST camp day, how he mentored athletes, how happy he was when he arrived at camp, and how family was everything to him.
He was a true mensch and the thousands of campers and alumni at Beber who were lucky enough to spend even one summer with him know the incredible loss this is to our community. I feel so blessed to have been able to spend my 10 summers at Beber with Ronnie. I will miss everything about him. His legacy will live on through all of us.
Harrell Wittenstein, Beber Camp Director, 1994-2000
I am devastated by Ron Kaplan’s passing. I have know him since I began my stint as a very young director of Beber Camp in 1994. The Kaplans, who really did run the camp, welcomed me into the Beber community and I call them both two of my closest friends. As we know, the Beber Camp community is like one big family and I know that you are all feeling the loss as I am. My heart aches for the entire Kaplan family and I want them to know that we, the Beber community, are here to support them in this time of grieving.
Like me, I am sure that when you think about times spent with Ron, a smile comes to your face. He had a whimsy that could always make me smile and feel good no matter what was happening. We often end condolences by saying, “May his memory be a blessing.” I can say for certain that I am blessed for having him in my life and teaching me so many great lessons. Ron had such a wonderful perspective, he appreciated everything he had in life, which I found so unique. I try very hard to view life the way he did, I am sure that will be his lasting impact on me as long as I live. I will be forever grateful for his friendship and the memories that will sustain me.
Len Keilin, Beber Camp Director, 1979-1993
Today my heart is broken. My oldest and dearest friend Ron passed away this morning. I could tell a thousand Ron stories and still just scratch the surface of who he was.
I met Ron when I was 5 years old. He lived up the street from my grandparents and we spent many hours playing together as young kids. We went to and worked at Bradley Brook Camp together. We went to high school together. When in college, Ron used to come back from Plattsburgh and play ball for my fraternity. We played together on the MidTown Plaza Rochester championship softball team together. We shared the good times and the bad.
In 1976 I became director of Camp Seneca Lake. My very first call was to Ron to ask him and Cheryl to come work with me. At the time he was teaching summer school, but he gave up that job to come to Seneca Lake. When I left two years later he had to get back in the line for a summer school job. So, when I called him in the fall of 1979 to tell him I was going to direct a new camp in Wisconsin and I wanted the Kaplans to work with me again, his response was “I gave up my place in summer school once. You need to convince me you’re going to be there for a while.” They didn’t come the first summer of 1980 but in 1981 the Kaplans headed out to Mukwonago to join the Beber Camp staff. And they didn’t miss a summer since. Our kids grew up together at Beber. He was a confidant and calming force. He was always there for me with a wise word or a corny joke. Ron and Cheryl were instrumental in the success of Beber Camp.
My mind is flooded with so many wonderful memories from every stage of our lives together. He was one of a kind. He touched the lives of so many people; students in school, campers and staff at camp and all those who knew him. He loved his family deeply and was always there for anyone who needed him.
Few people are truly irreplaceable, but Ron is one of those few. Like so many of you, I will miss him terribly. There is a hole in my heart as I am sure is true of many of you. I’m heartbroken for his family. I know how much he loved them and will be missed.
May his memory be for a blessing and, in Ron’s words, “Go S.U.”