It is with mixed emotions that I write this story for the Endowment Book of Life. On June 2, 2017, my beloved husband, Barry Caplan, passed away after a very short battle with lung cancer. We were married for 58 wonderful years and always discussed all important matters together. Today, as I attempt to write this on my own, it is with a sense of loss and sadness, but also with a sense of joy that allows me to remember the great happiness in my life.
Barry was born August 18, 1932, to Annette (Stall) and Max Caplan, both of whom had come to Winnipeg as children; Annette, from Ożarów, Poland, with her parents, Samuel and Rachel Stall, and Max from Liverpool, England, with his parents, Abraham Chaim and Ella Rochel (Brickman) Caplan. Annette and Max had three children, Barry (Sandra Glazerman), Sandra (Ray Ciarrocchi) and Gail (Earl Bender). The family lived at 175 McAdam Avenue and also had a summer cottage at Winnipeg Beach.
Although Max had graduated with a law degree from the University of Manitoba, due to the Great Depression, he was unable to earn a living in his chosen profession. Fortunately, Annette’s family had a position for him within the administration of their garment manufacturing business, S. Stall & Son, and Max worked at “Stall’s” until his retirement. Annette was a wonderful homemaker. Both she and Max were loving and devoted parents and grandparents.
Barry attended Machray School and graduated from St. John’s High School. As a child he took art and other lessons. As a teen he particularly enjoyed skating. While honing his fine art and skating skills, Barry also developed an interest in arts and cultural events - largely due to the influence of his parents. Ultimately, in 1957, Barry graduated from medical school at the University of Manitoba. Following graduation, he pursued a one-year fellowship in Pathology at the (then) Winnipeg General Hospital. I first met Barry in 1956 at Winnipeg Beach. We were married on June 21, 1959 and he was the love of my life until the day he died.
I was born in Winnipeg on Oct. 11, 1939, to Bertha (Comisaroff) and Allan Glazerman. Bertha was born in Winnipeg and Allan came to Canada as a young boy from Pinsk, Poland. Bertha and Al had three children; myself and my two siblings, Marcia (“Marci”) and Fredrick (“Freddy”).
Al was a furrier by trade, but his preferred line of work was the retail clothing business. Bertha was a business person in her own right who was much ahead of her time. As I recall, by 1945, Bertha and Al owned a store called “Albert’s”. Sometime later, Al and his brother-in-law, Herb Nitikman, opened a clothing store called “Martin and Co.”, which was located in the Time Building on Portage Avenue. After the closure of Albert’s, Bertha opened her own downtown store, which she named “Sandra’s”, after me.
In November 1949, my father won the Irish Sweepstake, resulting in a payout of $39,500 - a considerable sum in those days. With that windfall, my parents bought a lot on the south side of Portage Avenue, just east of Edmonton Street. They then closed all other businesses and built a new men’s and ladies’ clothing store, “Fredric’s”, named after my brother. I remember the store vividly. It was a large and beautiful shop that included a bridal boutique and in-house tailoring staff. As a teenager, I loved working at the store whenever I had free time. I was lucky to have had a built-in part-time job and believe that I developed my appreciation for all things business-related from my parents and my early years working at Fredric’s.
From 1945 until the late 1970’s, the Glazerman family lived at 272 Oxford Street. We also had a cottage at Winnipeg Beach, on the corner of Laurel and Grove. The Glazermans loved spending summers at the Beach. Barry and I later continued that tradition with our own family.
As a youngster, I attended Robert H. Smith school and after-school private Hebrew lessons. I recall attending my Hebrew classes at a “school” located in the basement of a home on Ash and Kingsway. When I was older, I took Hebrew classes at the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue. I was also active in Brownies, Girl Guides, and Synagogue Choir through the Shaarey Zedek. I had a Bat Mitzvah at Shaarey Zedek and was confirmed there after completing my Hebrew studies.
I graduated from Kelvin High School after grade 11, as we were able to in those days, and went on to study at the University of Manitoba. I was enrolled in the Faculty of Commerce (now known as the “Asper School of Business”). At that time there was only a handful of female students in the faculty. I belonged to the Iota Alpha Pi Sorority and served as president of the chapter during my third year of university.
I would have graduated in the spring of 1960, but Barry and I were married one year earlier and had moved to Los Angeles so that he could begin his residency. We spent four happy years in the Los Angeles area where Barry completed his residency in Urology from UCLA. While stateside, I worked in the business offices of AT&T, which was a perfect fit for me.
In August of 1963, after Barry finished his residency, we returned to Winnipeg as he had been living in the US on a student visa that was about to expire. By that time, we had a daughter, Susan, and a son, Bruce. With an abundance of family and friends in Winnipeg, we decided that it would be a good place to raise our own family. We proceeded to plant our own roots and never looked back. Our son, David, was born in Winnipeg in 1971.
Once back in Winnipeg, I became active in the National Council of Jewish Women, Irene Samuels Branch, and also in the Kinneret Chapter of Hadassah. During my active years in these groups, at different times, I served as president of each. In addition to managing our own household, once Barry set up his private practice, I managed his office. My business education proved to be a useful asset for that position.
During his medical career, Barry worked as a solo practitioner, a urological consultant for the St. Boniface Clinic, and held academic appointments from the University of Manitoba, Department of Surgery (Urology). From July 1985 through to retirement, he served as an Assistant Professor in the Department. Barry carried out his surgical practice, primarily, at the St. Boniface Hospital.
Barry and I loved travel and did as much as we could while he was working. We travelled with our children during the school breaks, trying to spend time in warmer locales during the winter season. In the early years, we also spent many happy winter vacations with the kids and family friends at Elkhorn Ranch in Clear Lake. Our summers were spent at the family cottage in Winnipeg Beach until the children started going to summer camp – they attended both Camps B’nai Brith and Massad. After Barry retired, we were able to enjoy more travel, including trips within Canada and the US, many trips to Europe, sometimes reaching there by transatlantic cruise, a tour of East Asia, and a memorable trip to Israel with Susan and family.
Throughout our lives, Barry and I were proud of all of our children. Each attended Ramah Hebrew School through to the completion of grade six. Susan (Billinkoff), who was born in Los Angeles on Jan. 22, 1962, has two sons, Jordan and Asher. She graduated from the University of Manitoba, first with a Bachelor of Arts, and then with a Bachelor of Laws. She recently retired from her employment at the Law Society of Manitoba where she served as Legal Counsel for the latter part of her career.
Bruce, who is married to Sheri Winters, was born in Torrance, California on April 11, 1963, and has two daughters, Maia and Annie. He inherited the Glazerman business gene and earned his Bachelor of Commerce (Hons.) from the University of Manitoba. He is a Chartered Accountant and Licensed Insolvency Trustee, running his own Winnipeg firm, Caplan Debt Solutions. In the summer of 2018, Bruce and family celebrated Maia and Annie’s b’not mitzvah in Israel and I was delighted to join them for that joyous occasion.
David was born in Winnipeg on June 8, 1971 and currently resides in Vancouver with his wife, Cindy Switzer and their two children, Max and Layla. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Manitoba and subsequently obtained his Bachelor of Laws from the University of British Columbia. David and Cindy spent many years in New York where both of their children were born. Notwithstanding his educational background, David’s true passion is in the world of technology and he now works as a web developer.
Barry was part of two very large Winnipeg families, the Stalls and the Caplans. Traditionally, the Stall family has celebrated the first day of Rosh Hashanah with a family luncheon. Often more than 50 cousins and extended family attend these events. We also spend the first Passover Seder with a large group of Stall cousins, maintaining the tradition established by Barry’s mother’s family. Many family members come to Winnipeg from out of town for these holidays and they are always joyful reunions.
My own family in Winnipeg is not that large, as four of my mother’s siblings and three of my father’s brothers moved to the US. Those of us who are here do, however, celebrate family events together and keep in touch. Having said that, my mother’s family, the Comisaroff clan, outside of Winnipeg, is extremely large and far-flung. This family has held reunions in Canada, the US, and Australia. In 1995, the Winnipeg cousins hosted a wonderful Comisaroff reunion with more than 100 family members attending, many of whom had come from as far away as Australia. A subsequent reunion was held in Australia in December 2003. Barry and I, as well as Susan and family, attended. Barry and I decided to stay down under after the reunion and spent time visiting relatives in Melbourne, Canberra, and on the AU Gold Coast. We were also able to tour New Zealand and Tasmania during that trip. It was a unique and wonderful three-month vacation for us.
Barry and I always enjoyed the Winnipeg arts scene, being patrons of the Symphony, Opera, Theatre Centre, and Ballet, among other cultural institutions in the city. Barry was also an enthusiastic supporter of Manitoba artists. He would often go out scouting on his own, coming home with local treasures in which he delighted. I always told him that we were running out of wall space and had no room for any more art in the house, but he would not be deterred. Having said that, looking at his collection always brings me much pleasure.
When Barry retired, we began spending our winters in St. Petersburg, Florida. At that time, we were eager to become active in the synagogue life. As a result, during the first of our 17 winters in St. Petersburg, we became members of Congregation B’nai Israel. We attended Shabbat services there regularly, took part in shul activities, and made many meaningful friendships through this association. In addition to resuming active synagogue life, Barry enrolled in art lessons while in St. Pete, rekindling his old passion for drawing and painting. Many of his works are framed and hang on the walls in our home, as well as in the homes of relatives and friends. While in Florida, Barry and I also participated in an seniors’ scholastic program at Eckerd College. In contrast to his involvement in culturally-based activities during our Florida winters, Barry also thoroughly enjoyed fishing outings with a buddy who became one of his dearest friends.
After Barry’s retirement, while in Winnipeg, we began attending Shabbat services at the Shaarey Zedek regularly. Barry, ever the keener, also enrolled in summer courses for credit at the University of Manitoba, completing one year in the faculty of Fine Arts as well as a variety of other courses of general interest to him. He was truly a life-long learner! Our family celebrated Barry’s 80th birthday by hosting a Shabbat morning service and kiddish luncheon at the Shaarey Zedek. He proudly recited his Bar Mitzvah Haftorah on that occasion.
During my life with Barry and beyond, it has always been my pleasure to host family and other social events. I truly enjoy entertaining and my daughter claims that I was “born to organize”. Barry and I used to work as a team and, although I do miss having him at my side, I continue to host smaller scale events on my own.
In addition to my busy family life and work for Barry’s office, I have been involved in a myriad of activities over the years, including being a member of several bridge groups. As an active bridge player, I have made deep connections with my fellow bridge group members, many of whom I count as my closest friends. I have also been a member of book club for approximately 35 years. This group meets monthly and, until Barry retired, I organized our meetings on an ongoing basis.
Barry and I were always grateful to be part of the Winnipeg’s Jewish community and were pleased to contribute to its financial needs and to those of Israel. We were a happy, devoted couple who enjoyed a full life with our family and friends. I am now grateful for the wonderful years Barry and I had together and for the additional years I have been granted on my own. I cherish my memories and, at the same time, face the future bravely, knowing that Barry is always with me in spirit.