In Memoriam

Dear Friends,

In memory of our Trustee, Richard, we invite you to share remembrances below. To share your memories of Richard, simply scroll down to the bottom of the webpage, and navigate to “leave a remembrance”.

RDK Great photo


  1. To the RPA Board and Friends:

    I am very sorry to share the sad news that our dear friend and former board member Richard Kaplan passed away last week.

    Richard served on RPA’s board from 2001 to 2014, and during that time he left an indelible mark on the Association. His enthusiasm, wit, creativity, support, irreverence, honesty, perseverance and generosity shaped everything we did for more than a decade.

    Peter Herman wrote me to say that Richard “will be remembered for his keen sense of design, his infectious enthusiasm for the work of our organization and his kindness of spirit.”

    Bob Yaro noted that Richard was often the first funder for a novel program, and could provide support at a moment’s notice for an important opportunity. On one such occasion, he provided a quick grant for Bob to visit Copenhagen with City Planning Chair Amanda Burden and the newly-appointed DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, where they met the famed urbanist Jan Gehl, rode bikes around the city, and hatched what would become New York’s audacious plan to build bike lanes in the Big Apple.

    I would add that whether he was advocating the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan after 9/11 or helping launch America 2050, Richard was always the first funder, the strongest promoter, the emotional core and the brilliant convener. He had a smile as big as the city he loved, and he left a mark on everyone who had the great fortune to cross his path.

    Our thoughts are with his wife Edwina Sandys and the rest of his family.


  2. Richard’s spirit and generosity will forever remain in our hearts. The joy he brought to all of us was a gift. To his wife Edwina Sandys we send our love and support.
    Dr. Steven Rose & Dale Coudert
    The Board of Directors of the Coudert Institute & the Entire Staff

  3. I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Richard Kaplan, who was such an extraordinary and extraordinarily loyal and generous supporter of artists. Through the New York Foundation for the Arts’ (NYFA) Artist Fund program, Richard supported almost 50 individual artists, allowing them to make at, create performances, teach classes, go on tour, write books, and, in general, make the world a better, more welcoming and civilized place. His taste, rigor and dedication were unerring and the artists he supported made a difference. He stands as a model for enlightened, intelligent philanthropic giving and he will be deeply missed.

    My deepest sympathy to his family and may you be comforted by the legacy of amazing work he made possible for us all.

    Mark Rossier
    New York Foundation for the Arts

  4. Henry Buhl on said:

    As a next-door neighbor in SoHo, I always relished going to his loft. Richard was always the life of the party. He played piano, sang and told jokes. He was a unique and fun individual. Richard’s energy was infectious. His friends and guests left his parties in upbeat moods.

    I had the honor to photograph his wedding to Edwina. She was his soul mate. Their partnership was filled with love and joy.

    Henry Buhl
    Founder of ACE

  5. We wanted to extend our heartfelt condolence to Edwina, Joan, Elizabeth, Mary, and the entire staff at the J.M. Kaplan Fund. Richard touched many New Yorkers’ lives with his generosity, warmth, and his incredible contribution to the built environment. As those touched by his generosity, we can say that the completion of Four Freedoms Park (a project 40 years in the making) was in-part due to the dedication of this wonderful man. We think of him, his family, and the staff at the Fund with tenderness.

  6. Jim Polshek on said:

    My dear old friend Richard had so many uniquely humane facets to his personality that a mere recitation of those would be insufficient to celebrate such a remarkable life. Instead I will describe one of our earliest architectural adventures together.

    After returning to New York from the far east in 1962 I met Richard socially and was immediately attracted to his warmth and enthusiasm. Shortly thereafter he asked me to share an office with him in the attic of the 1902 Knox Hat building demonstrating his early affection for landmarks. The huge north facing windows in the mansard overlooked the New York Public Library. But we had a short-lived occupancy as we we were evicted on the sale of the historic structure to allow for the addition of a banal high-rise office building– an unfortunate glimpse of the future of Fifth Avenue.

    Upon receipt of the notice to vacate the indefatigable, ebullient and inventive Richard used his binoculars and discovered a much taller and more dramatic space one block to the east. The 48 story Lefcourt Colonial building opened at the corner of Madison and East 41st Street in 1930. We immediately walked over, took two elevators and a stairway to reach a 40 foot high volume containing only a swimming pool sized water tank. From the roof sprouted six golden obelisks. Richard intuitively understood real estate and how to negotiate. We immediately leased the space.

    This was a perfect example of the merging of his agile intelligence, impeccable taste, idealism and love for his great city.

  7. It’s impossible to think of Richard without the words “joie de vivre.” He and Edwina were always enthusiastic supporters of ambitious and artistic projects. We will miss his ebullient personality and his friendship.

    Richard was one of the founding trustees of The Skyscraper Museum. He was instrumental in helping us find and fund our first pop-up exhibition on Wall Street in 1997; in supporting our move to the Museum’s permanent home in Battery Park City in 2004; and endlessly in spreading the word about the importance of the Museum’s work. Thank you, Richard.

  8. “My noble girls! Ah, women, women, look,
    Our lamp is spent, it’s out! Good sirs, take heart”
    (Anthony and Cleopatra, Act IV, Scene 15)

    Enthusiastic. Generous. Richard was a supporter of Urban Stages for the last 25 years. He provided theater, art and education for many – mostly to those who could not otherwise access it and particularly through our Outreach programs in NY Public libraries since his father was a major supporter of the Public Libraries. He was a pillar for us. He was a dear friend. “Our lamp is spent” and we will all miss him terribly. But the brightness he radiated remains.

    Frances Hill
    Urban Stages

  9. Richard was a dear friend, donor, and inspiration to Rocky Mountain Institute for nearly 25 years. His vision, humor, keen sense for detail, and design mind made him a wonderful partner. On many occasions, we invited him to connect with our program staff to be a sounding board, either on a project that arose out of our thinking…or his! He loved joining us, with Edwina, for RMI’s 25th anniversary in 2007 and helped light up the room with his enthusiasm and curiosity.

    Most recently, Marty recalls sitting for a couple of hours with Richard (in his famously favorite Lure restaurant) to review a presentation about our new net zero energy RMI Innovation Center in Basalt, CO, and Richard had a recommendation for improvement for every slide!

    We are so appreciative to have known and loved Richard for so long and will sorely miss him. Our warm wishes go to all of Richard’s family and friends whom we also know are experiencing a great loss.

    Marty, Amory, Jules and the RMI team

  10. My partner Renny Reynolds and I have known Richard and Edwina for many years as Renny and Edwina were Board Members of The Royal Oak Foundation and have seen them often, both in New York and Palm Beach, over the years. We are the owners of Hortulus Farm in Wrightstown, PA, which we are leaving as a public garden and which is now a 501c3 foundation. Last season, we were lucky enough to feature Edwina’s wonderful sculptures in the garden and, very generously, Richard has us apply for a discretionary grant to help us manage and rebuild our woodlands after Hurricane Sandy and two devastating winters. He was always the most generous-hearted, robust, life-of-the-party individual and a wonderful friend to us and he is sorely missed.

    Jack Staub
    Hortulus Farm

  11. Tina Spiro on said:

    Our sincerest condolences to Edwina and the Kaplan family on the loss of our dear friend Richard. My husband Eran Spiro was friends with Richard from the early 1960’s and they shared a passion for architecture, design, urban planning Manhattan and creating a better future. Richard was a real treasure; generous, funny and filled with innovative ideas. Hopefully one day his revolutionary Phoenix building block will be remembered and revived.

    We have many wonderful memories of Richard in his various homes from Park Avenue to East Hampton…always fun and full of affection. Richard, we will miss you. Love, Tina & Eran Spiro, Kingston, Jamaica

  12. I just came across your fund today in my research and learned about your loss of Mr. Kaplan. Judging from the remembrances, he was a special person who is sure to be missed. For a complete stranger as I who did not know Mr. Kaplan to feel that the world has lost a real treasure speaks to the comments of his friends touching my heart in remembering such a special, funny, generous and loving man. My deepest sympathies to his family and all at JMK Fund.

Leave a Remembrance

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *