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Deaths for the week of Nov. 8-14, 2020

Obituaries are supported by a generous grant from Sinai Memorial Chapel. This page will be updated throughout the week. Submit an obituary here.

Elliott Kapchan

March 17, 1926–Nov. 2, 2020

Beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather; a loving man, loyal friend, and great fisherman.

Elliott Kapchan passed away in Napa on Nov. 2 at the age of 94. A native of Long Beach, Long Island, N.Y., he moved to San Francisco at age 15 to live with relatives so he could become a state resident, and then a UC Berkeley graduate. While attending Lowell High School, he met Rhoda Greendorfer at a JCC dance in 1943; they were dance partners until she passed away in 1977.

Elliott served in the Navy during World War II in the Aleutian islands and graduated from Cal. After Rhoda also graduated from Cal in 1949, they married and moved to Chicago, where Elliott attended the Illinois College of Optometry and Rhoda worked as a social worker. It was there that their first daughter, Sydney, was born. Upon Elliott’s graduation, the threesome moved back to San Francisco and then to Richmond, where he was an industrial optometrist. The family then settled in Alameda where Elliott established his practice and Rhoda worked alongside him. Their daughters Wendy and Allison were born in Alameda. They all enjoyed camping, the Lair, outings, and visits with family and longtime friends. The couple was integral to life in the island city. Over nearly 50 years, Elliott served hundreds of Alamedans as their optometrist, volunteering annually to give free exams to the needy. He was a community leader with Kiwanis, the Elks and Temple Israel. He was an active Cal Bears supporter, holding season tickets in his mid-80s.

A first-generation American, son of Zalman and Fanny, who worked at their kosher butcher shop every day but Shabbat, Elliott valued hard work and self-determination. He was a cherished big brother to his late sister, Hilda, a friend to many, and to the end, kept in touch with family and friends around the country.

An avid student of history, Elliott had a sharp mind and vocal perspective about America’s democratic and ethical values that his generation fought to preserve. He was an accomplished sports fisherman, an outdoorsman who taught his daughters and his grandchildren to care for the environment and to stand up for the rights of the less fortunate, to love Israel and to treat all people with respect. He had a delightful sense of humor and a profound generosity.

After Rhoda’s early death, Elliott moved to Moraga and married Patricia Polse, who passed away in 2018. In 2019, he moved to the Meadows in Napa to be near his daughter Allison. He’d made new friends, joined the garden club and grown delicious tomatoes before Covid-19 hit. He lived his last couple of years with peace of mind, knowing he was truly loved by his entire family. His final hours were spent with Allison and her family, and he passed away peacefully with Allison at his side. His family extends special appreciation to Mark Vergara, health care aide, for the care and comfort he provided to Elliott.

Elliott is survived by his daughters and sons-in-law: Sydney Kapchan (Dr. Steven Tulkin), Wendy Avraham (Chaim) and Allison Frost (Norbert), and by his grandchildren: Rabbi Joel Nickerson (Julia), Raphael Avraham (Hadar), Dafna Avraham, Gabriel Avraham (Lauren), Lindsay Frost and Eric Frost; and step-grandchildren David Tulkin, Joshua Tulkin (Annie), and 11 great-grandchildren.

A private funeral service is planned.

Donations in Elliott’s memory will be appreciated to Jewish Community Federation (jewishfed.org), Stand With Us (standwithus.com), or the Jewish National Fund (jnf.org).

Louis de Groot

June 28, 1929-Sept. 29, 2020

Louis de Groot 
Louis de Groot

Louis de Groot died at George Washington University Hospital on Sept. 29, 2020, due to complications following a heart attack.

A Holocaust survivor, he dedicated many years to educating thousands of schoolchildren and adults about the Nazi murder of millions of Jews, Catholics and the Romani people during the 1930s and 1940s. A former president of the Jewish Family and Children’s Services Holocaust Center in San Francisco, he also volunteered with the Bay Area’s Farkas Center for the Study of the Holocaust. After moving to Washington, D.C., in 2018, he volunteered twice weekly at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, translating documents from Dutch to English, and answering visitors’ questions as a “witness.” The “first person” account of his wartime experiences is available at tinyurl.com/louis-degroot.

Born in Amersfoort, Holland, on June 28, 1929, Louis de Groot was 13 when he went into “hiding” with his parents and sister, who were murdered in Auschwitz in 1944. Separated from them in 1943, he was forced to move frequently until he settled with Dirk and Ann Onderweegs, active members of the Dutch Underground, whom he cherished until his death. Louis assisted the Onderweegs in their clandestine efforts, forging and delivering documents and stealing papers from Nazi offices.

Following World War II, he lived in an orphanage and then fought with the Haganah in Israel’s independence war. He emigrated to New York City in 1950 and was soon drafted into the U.S. Army, which sent him back to Europe to serve as a translator in Germany. After his service, he used the G.I. Bill to pay for tuition at Columbia University, where he earned a B.S. and an M.A. in economics while working at the National Bureau for Economic Research.

His 90th birthday party at Thomas House in Washington, D.C., offered an indication of the love and respect he garnered from the wide circle of those he touched. In addition to family members, guests included staff from the Holocaust Museum and Thomas House, his closest friend of 60 years, whom he met when he began work for IBM as an analyst in the company’s marketing department, and even friends of relatives whom he befriended. Some came from as far away as California and Holland (the Onderweegs’ daughter and her husband).

Louis is survived by his son David de Groot, niece Lily Martinez and her husband Marcos Sosa, nephew Isaac Brenner, brother-in-law Philip Brenner and his wife Betsy Vieth, two grandnephews, and cousins in Baltimore, Las Vegas and Orinda, California. He was predeceased by his wife of 59 years, Barbara de Groot (nee Brenner), and his son Marc de Groot. Donations in his memory should be directed to the Holocaust Center or Farkas Center in San Francisco, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum or JFCS Holocaust Survivor Services.