In Memory of Shel Kaplan

Grand Ambassador of The Seena Magowitz Foundation

Written By Tony Subia
November 2019

There are not enough words to describe the most unique man I ever met.

Sadly, Shel is no longer with us. But for those that knew him can relish the treasure-trove of memories he gifted us. A true friend. Always the life of the party. Knew everything about everything. Knew everyone, yet called himself “Mr. Anonymous.” Go figure. Would step forward to help anyone. Yet he never lacked the right words for inhospitable people. Know what I mean? He was from Brooklyn you know.

He called himself “The Facilitator.” He could negotiate the impossible. If Shel couldn’t get it done, no one could. He could convince you that yellow canaries were actually purple. That water was dust. He wrote the book. “The Art of Confused Deception.”

Shel knew everything about anything. How do I know that? He told me so. On those really rare times when he admitted he had “forgotten” a fact, he could Google quicker than Pat Morita could catch a fly with chopsticks. Speaking of chop sticks? No, never-mind. Don’t ask. Not going there.

He knew more about cigars than Fidel Castro. He could sniff-out a fake Cuban from across the room. He always said, “If you’re going to smoke a fine cigar, you better respect it.” If Shel ever caught you crushing the life out of a fine stogie, you had to withstand the lecture. “Nearing the end of a cigar’s life, it must be laid-down reverently in comfort and left to relish its eventual last breath.”

Shel thrived on being the “deal-maker”. Want a new car? Go make your best deal then call Shel. He could turn a tough car sales manger into a jar of silly-putty. Couldn’t find a $200 hotel room in a sold-out market? Shel would get you that room for 55 bucks plus a bottle of champagne.

You know the show “Let’s Make A Deal? At the end of the show where a lovely model would give you $100 if you had mousetrap in your back pocket. Shel could have made a fortune. He could pull the impossible out of his pockets.

He spoke Brooklyn. Really fast. If he wanted to confuse you, he talked really, really fast. People from Brooklyn sound rough and tough. Shel was definitely street savvy but always with a tender side. He would do anything for you. His many friends never had to even ask. Shel was always there when you needed him.

He championed The Seena Magowitz Foundation and its worthy cause. He was always there to help. I cherished those times after a fund-raising event when we all sat around a warm fire at the end of a long day enjoying a fine cigar. We could just sit quietly and listen to Shel doing his thing.

Roger Magowitz and I can attest. Shel was a true friend whom we loved dearly. We miss him and his humorous wit terribly. And will always treasure the memories.

In the game of life, his wife Susan was his true love and his lifeline. Bless you Susan for always volunteering to help the foundation. We are all so thankful to have called your husband Shel a cherished friend.

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