Edward Caplan, founder of a Baltimore plumbing company and a decorated World War II veteran, died of congestive heart failure Sunday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Mount Washington resident was 83.
The son of immigrant Russian parents, he was born and raised on Eden Street in East Baltimore. He attended Talmudical Academy before cutting short his education to help support his family.
In his youth, he played baseball for the Brooklyn Athletic Association and always maintained that he would have been a professional player if not for injuries suffered in the war, family members said.
He enlisted in the Army in 1942 and served with the 42nd Infantry (Rainbow) Division in France. He was awarded the Purple Heart after being shot through the arm in Alsace-Lorraine and the Bronze Star.
After the war, Mr. Caplan worked at Maryland Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. in Curtis Bay before founding Edward Caplan Plumbing & Heating Co. in 1954. He ran the business from his home -- first in Pikesville and later Mount Washington -- with his wife of 58 years, the former Beverly Goldsmith, who survives him. The business closed in 2000.
For nearly 60 years, he was an active member of the area chapter of Jewish War Veterans, serving as commander.
Though Mr. Caplan had coped with various illnesses during the past 33 years, he never failed to visit veterans at the Perry Point and Baltimore Veterans Affairs hospitals. He ran bingo games, served coffee and volunteered in the pharmacy. On Christmas Day, he distributed gifts he had purchased for the patients.
Often suffering from pain and not able to walk well, Mr. Caplan saw visiting the veterans as "part of his duty to his country," said his daughter, Rochelle C. Cohen of Owings Mills.
"Last year, bedridden but concerned that American soldiers were coming home from Iraq without enough money for phone calls home, he started a campaign for phone cards among the local veteran groups," she said.
He was an active member of Beth Israel Congregation, Amicable Lodge No. 25 of the Masons and Yedz Grotto.
Services were held Wednesday.
He is also survived by a son, Marc H. Caplan of Gaithersburg; a brother, Stanley Caplan of Bowie; a sister, Frieda Blebow of Silver Spring; and four grandchildren.