by | Mar 6, 2017 | Obituaries

Norfolk —Phyllis Berman Kaplan, 87, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, February 14 surrounded by her family.

Phyllis was born August 18, 1929 in Norfolk, Virginia to Leonard and Frieda (Cohen) Berman. She graduated from Maury High School at the top of her class. She attended Connecticut College for Women where, she always said, she got her “Mrs.” degree. It was there that she met the love of her life, a medical student at New York Medical College named Arthur Kaplan. They married in 1949, settling in Norfolk when Arthur began his medical practice in 1953. “Arthur and Phyllis” were a couple beloved by countless friends. It was impossible to think of the one without the other.

Phyllis was an avid gardener of flowers, vegetables, and ornamentals. She was a Master Gardener at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, digging in the dirt with toddlers and seniors alike to her great delight. She competed side by side with her husband, up and down the Eastern seaboard, at rose and orchid shows, loading up their van with orchids and displays, to win multiple awards and make many lasting friends. She nurtured seeds, her children, and her beloved grandchildren with great care.

She was a lifelong artist, decorating her home with oils and acrylics of scenes drawn from around her home, especially still lifes, landscapes, and orchids. Her family still measures their cooking success against the high standard of “Grandma’s brisket.”

Phyllis was a Life Member of Hadassah, a member of the Beth El Temple Sisterhood in Norfolk, and a founding member of the Women’s Cabinet of the United Jewish Federation. She was also the former chair of the Ernie Morgan Center at the Norfolk Zoo.

The oldest of three sisters, Phyllis was preceded in death by her sister Suzanne Goldberg, her son Roger Kaplan, and her beloved husband of 60 years, Arthur Kaplan.

Left to cherish her memory are her sister Arlene (Howard) Kesser of Norfolk; her son Harvey Kaplan of Evanston, Illinois; her daughter Nancy Kaplan (George Peabody) of Acton, Massachusetts; her daughter-in-law Jayne Kaplan Warman of Hollywood, Florida; her grandchildren Avi Kaplan (Rella Kaplowitz), Leah (Jonathan) Kaplan Robins, Anna (Ruairi) Sweeney, and Katie Peabody, and three great grandchildren.

Services were held at H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments, with burial at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Memorial donations can be made to the Arthur & Phyllis Kaplan Orchid Conservatory or to the Arthur & Phyllis Fund for Congregation Beth El, Tidewater Jewish Foundation, or Beth Sholom Home of Eastern Virginia. Online Condolences may be offered to the family at