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Deaths for the week of Dec. 20-26, 2020

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


Margot Cappel

Jan. 12, 1921-Dec. 23, 2020

Margot Cappel, Holocaust survivor, was predeceased by her beloved Francis Cappel. She is survived by her loving daughters Joan Wachter (Ron) and Ellen Fiebert (Mark); a devoted grandmother to Erin Anderson, Justin Anderson (Melissa) and Heather Wachter; cherished great-grandmother of Cole and Cailin; and a loving aunt and friend to many.


Sandra “Sandy” Kaplan Coplon

April 17, 1940-Dec. 2, 2020

Sandra “Sandy” Kaplan Coplon
Sandra “Sandy” Kaplan Coplon

With great sadness, we announce the passing of Sandra “Sandy” Kaplan Coplon, 80, loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and aunt, at her home in Portola Valley, after a valiantly fought battle with cancer. She was a fearless woman who was compassionate, strong, and intelligent.

Sandy was born in Liberty, New York to Henry and Dora Kaplan. She graduated from Liberty High School in 1958 and continued on to Alfred University. During a clinical rotation in Syracuse, she met her future husband, Dr. Norman Coplon (1937-2015), and they married in 1961. She graduated from the nursing program with a BSN in 1962 (pregnant with their first daughter, Bonnie). During a two-year stint in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where Norman served in the Army, their second daughter, Deana, was born. The growing family moved to California for Norman to finish his residency and fellowship in Nephrology, and they completed their family with a son, Dovid.

After arriving in California, Sandy became very involved in her synagogue (Kol Emeth in Palo Alto), helping to create a tightly-knit friendship group or “Chavarah”. She spent many hours volunteering — all you had to do was ask for help and she would be there. Always warm and caring, she worked for eighteen years as a Stanford Hospital Emergency Department nurse. Many homesick campers will remember her volunteering summers as Camp Arazim’s nurse and instant “camp mom” (a commitment she expanded and carried on long after her children no longer attended). She finished her career in Stanford’s Employee Health Department.

Always a true partner, Sandy provided immense support to her husband while he established his practice and went on to found Satellite Dialysis. Norman and Sandy created a strong culture at Satellite that prioritized patient care and employee growth, including its many strong female leaders. Sandy’s commitment to Satellite continued through Norman’s decline from Alzheimer’s and extended to her ongoing support of the National Kidney Foundation.

Sandy embraced lifelong friendships with so many; once you became her friend, you were a friend for life. She continued to keep up with childhood friends from Liberty, college friends from Alfred, and friends that she made along her life’s path. With a sense of wanderlust, she traveled the world and always prioritized visits with family and friends wherever she went.

An avid gardener, Sandy amazed guests with fancy salads which often included home-grown flowers. She loved to learn and was always taking classes, mastering many subjects, particularly art history. She expressed her love of reading through her engagement in two book groups, preparing thoroughly for her selections and presentations. Book tapes could be heard on any visit to her home.

Constantly on the go, she loved nothing more than meeting up with friends for lunch, the ballet, or just a movie (though she often fell fast asleep once the lights dimmed). And even though she kept busy, she always made herself available for her children and grandchildren and would drop everything for them if needed. She made it to as many sports games, performances and birthday parties as she could and developed special relationships with all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Sandy was predeceased by her loving husband, Dr. Norman Coplon, whom she cared for diligently before his passing. She is survived by 3 children, Bonnie (Lee), Deana (Jonathan) and Dovid (Erika), 13 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. Nieces Andee (Rob) and Suzanne (Michael) and nephew Peter (Maureen) became her second set of children and were treated as part of her immediate family.

Sandy’s generosity was legendary. Gifts in her honor are welcome at two of her favorite charities, the National Kidney Foundation (kidney.org) and American Jewish World Service (ajws.org). Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the funeral was held on Dec. 3 at the Hills of Eternity Memorial Park in Colma with only immediate family in attendance.

Sandy meant so much to so many and received kind words and thoughts from all over the world which were so appreciated! She will be missed.


Donald P. Allen

Oct. 23, 1928–Dec. 11, 2020

Donald P. Allen
Donald P. Allen

Donald P. Allen, a successful technology company pioneer and entrepreneur in the early days of Silicon Valley, and a resident of the Peninsula for more than 65 years, passed away on Dec. 11, 2020 at the age of 92.

An industrial and electrical engineer by training, and an Air Force veteran, Don was a brilliant, engaging, warm and insightful man who was a natural leader because of his keen perception and ability to connect with virtually anyone. He will be greatly missed by his friends, family and loved ones. Throughout his life, Don was profoundly curious, fascinated by innovation of thought and technology, and a seeker of truth about the mysteries of life. He was dedicated to the principle of service to humanity.

Don was born in Los Angeles and attended high school there and did undergraduate work at UCLA. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in engineering during the Korean War, and he stayed active in the Cal Alumni Association and the School of Engineering for his entire life, including teaching a class on entrepreneurship.

After graduation, he married his first wife, Terri, whom he met at Cal, and they had three children, Leslie, Curt and Paul. He and Terri divorced in the early 1960s.

Don also did graduate work at Stanford in engineering and business, and later coached student entrepreneur teams in competitions at the business school there. After his service in the Air Force, Don worked for Ampex Corporation in Redwood City, an innovator of video technology and one of the iconic companies of the early days of Silicon Valley. During his years at Ampex, he rose in the ranks of management. Never one to follow the conventional path, Don temporarily set aside his rapid ascent in the corporate world and joined a group of forward-thinking Stanford engineers, MDs and researchers at the International Foundation for Advanced Study (the “Foundation”) in Menlo Park. The Foundation did cutting-edge research into the use of psychedelics and their impact on creativity and mental acuity, undertaking scientific study of measurable changes in beliefs, attitudes and behavior. It was through his association with the Foundation that he met his second wife, Dr. Mary Hughes, who was on the Foundation staff. He and Mary enjoyed many happy years together and had two children, Michael and Phillip.

After completing his research project with the Foundation, Don then started down the path of technology entrepreneurship, joining a group of Stanford alums at technology startup Vidar Corporation, helping develop and market digital communications systems. After years in senior management at Vidar, Don joined with some Hewlett-Packard executives to start another venture-backed company, Trendar Automation, a company that became a leader in the field of circuit-board testing architecture.

After Trendar was acquired, Don started another venture-backed company, Amtel Corporation, in Mountain View, and became CEO. During the course of the 1980s, the company was a fast-growing innovator in office messaging systems, and Don led the company from startup to successful acquisition.

Apart from his stellar career in the corporate world and engineering, Don was profoundly dedicated to his family and to his community. Don’s beloved wife Mary passed away in 1994 after a prolonged battle with cancer. After that, he dedicated his life to helping the bereaved. For more than 20 years he was a volunteer and board member of Kara, through which he counseled and provided empathetic support for scores of Kara clients who were grieving due to the loss of loved ones.

After retiring from his corporate career, Don met and married Susan Payne. Don and Susan spent many happy and active years together, hiking in the foothills, traveling internationally, volunteering together with Kara and other organizations, and as long-standing, beloved and active members of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills.

Throughout his life, Don truly lived by the standard that “service is the fabric of human purpose.” Don is survived and sorely missed by his dear wife Susan, his children and his extended family, including his 11 grandchildren, and his five great-grandchildren.

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