In Loving Memory of Frieda Rapoport Caplan

On Saturday afternoon under a sunny Southern California sky, family and friends of the late Frieda Rapoport Caplan gathered to remember and celebrate this incredible human being.  One by one, industry leaders, fellow philanthropists, friends and Frieda’s immediate family shared personal memories that encapsulated so many wonderful years of a lifetime spent serving others.  Megan and I loved hearing from everyone who spoke, as the memories they shared gave us an even deeper appreciation for someone we have admired for so long.

IMG_2907My fascination with Frieda started twenty-five years ago when I found my way to the Fresh Summit floor (referred to then as “the PMA”) and stood in line at the Frieda’s booth to introduce myself to the two women I saw most when reading and studying trade publications throughout my college years.  My introduction to Karen and Frieda, while brief, was one that over the years has formed into deep respect and admiration of the women-owned, family business led by Frieda.  This 25 year bond was formed not only with Frieda, but also with Karen, Jackie and Alex.  We have been competitors, customers, interns, mentors and most of all supportive friends. These varied types of relationships we shared created a deep amount of mutual respect which is exactly what we know Frieda sought in the relationships she formed.

A few years back, Megan and I had the great pleasure of staying at Frieda’s house during a work trip.  The stay included a very early dinner at her favorite restaurant where we learned about so many things including an armadillo race she saw in Houston!  That evening she gave us a tour of her home showcasing walls filled with beautiful photos of Frieda’s loved ones, daughters and grandchildren.  As we entered her room, she pointed to the computer on her desk and said “This is where I check my email and read your blog”.  First of all, her emails are legendary. Most of all, in that moment she gave us an unsolicited gift of confidence, as she would go on to do the rest of her life.  To cap off the ending to a perfect night, and somewhere around the midnight hour, classical music began playing loudly throughout the house.  Unable to sleep, like two school girls, Meg and I spent the night talking about the amazing experience we were having with Frieda.  Since then, we lovingly refer to our night with her as “the night we had a slumber party at Frieda’s fun house!” 



Another fun memory of Frieda that we like to recount from time to time took place at the inaugural PMA Women’s Fresh Perspectives conference when both Frieda and I were on a panel of various women leaders.  The moderator asked a question about “being fearful as a leader”.  Frieda quickly responded confidently with “I’ve never been fearful in business.”  After making this bold statement, Frieda immediately turned to me and said loudly for all to hear, “And you’ve never been fearful either!”  That is how much confidence she had in me, herself and many others.  


To have had the time that we did working with, listening to and being led by such an amazing woman is humbling. This was a woman that was a bright light, a mover, a shaker, and a difference maker.  Frieda lived a life that was full and perfectly suited for her.  To know someone with no regrets, no fear and no stone left unturned over a lifetime ninety-six years rich, one can only hope to shape a life applying Frieda’s rules as we remember them: be kind to everyone, listen but don’t be silent, vote, stand up for what’s right and be involved in the things you’re passionate about.   Never settle and always find the bright side.


Frieda, we love you.  We will miss you while your influence and words will forever live on in our hearts.