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Orchid Expert and ODU Benefactor Arthur Kaplan Dies

Dr. Arthur S. Kaplan, the retired Norfolk physician whose gift of an orchid collection to Old Dominion University led to the construction of The Arthur and Phyllis Kaplan Orchid Conservatory on campus, died on April 14. He was 85.

Dr. Kaplan practiced internal medicine in Norfolk for 40 years and served as president of the medical staff at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. A native of Raleigh, N.C., he was educated at the University of North Carolina and New York Medical College.

He also served as chairman of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation from 1993 to 2002. In 1999 he was the recipient of the Joseph H. Strelitz Memorial Award for Distinguished Community Service.

Dr. Kaplan and his wife were avid orchid gardeners and ODU was the beneficiary of their gift of 1,000 plants. Together with the orchids, the couple made a monetary donation for care of the plants. Kaplan's brother and sister-in-law, Leonard and Tobee Kaplan of Greensboro, N.C., Joan Dalis of Norfolk, and other of his friends donated money for the construction of the $2.1 million conservatory. It opened in April 2008, and on many days during the past year the retired physician came to the facility to work in its greenhouses in his capacity as Honorary Curator of Orchids.

A nationally recognized authority on orchids, Dr. Kaplan served as president of the Tidewater Orchid Society and the Eastern Orchid Congress. He also was a trustee of the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

Dr. Kaplan is survived by his wife, brother and sister-in-law, two children and four grandchildren.

He was buried Thursday at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Donations in Dr. Kaplan's memory can be made to The Arthur and Phyllis Kaplan Orchid Conservatory and the Tidewater Jewish Foundation.

This article was posted on: April 16, 2009

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