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Paul G. Caplan Papers

Collection ID: MG 78

Scope and Contents

The papers of Paul G. Caplan range from around the 1890s to 2004, mostly consisting of materials related to the Norfolk Junior Chamber of Commerce, City of Norfolk, Norfolk Port and Industrial Authority, Norfolk International Airport, Norfolk/Virginia Zoo, and air transportation in general.  The collection also contains correspondence related to personal life, transportation, politics, community and city issues; clippings and publications pertaining to various subjects including transportation, community relations, and politics; brochures; pharmacy related materials; photographs; and miscellaneous items.


  • circa 1890-2004, undated
  • Other: Date acquired: 06/10/2003



42.60 Linear Feet

Conditions Governing Access

A portion of personal records are closed to researchers until 2049.

Conditions Governing Use

Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.

Biographical or Historical Information

Paul Glasser Caplan was born on August 29, 1918 in Norfolk, Virginia to Phillip and Ida May Glasser Caplan. A sister, Selma Faye Caplan, was born October 10, 1923. In 1963, Caplan married Ruth Kopelove Salasky and became a stepfather to Stanley Jackson Salasky and Marilyn Salasky. Caplan eventually had three step-grandchildren: Stanley’s daughter Lauren, and Marilyn’s two sons Daniel and Andrew. Caplan graduated from Maury High School in 1936. He then attended the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary/Virginia Polytechnic Institute, now Old Dominion University, graduating in 1938. Caplan completed his education by graduating from the Medical College of Virginia in 1941 with a degree in pharmacy. After graduating, Caplan worked at Whelan Drugs in Newport News and Norfolk from 1941-1947. After 1947, he assisted his father in running Caplan’s Pharmacy, located on Church and Charlotte Streets that had been purchased by Caplan’s Uncle Abe in 1916. When Norfolk redevelopment closed the pharmacy in 1961, Caplan became president of One Stop Drug Shops, a co-operative of nine independent drug stores. Caplan also continued working as a pharmacist, for Red Behrman at Modern Pharmacy on Granby Street, at Frazier Pharmacy on 35th Street and Colonial Avenue, as well as at Central Stores in Roland Park. Caplan was a member of several professional associations, such as the Tidewater Pharmaceutical Association, Virginia Pharmaceutical Association, and American Pharmaceutical Association, as well as a number of civic and political organizations. For instance, Caplan was a very prominent figure in the Norfolk Junior Chamber of Commerce, where he served on the Health and Sanitation, New Residents, Civic Affairs, and Publications committees. Caplan became president of the Norfolk chapter in 1951. Other organizations that Caplan was involved with included the Virginia Jaycees, the Tidewater Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Virginia Zoological and Aquarium Society. In regard to the development of the City of Norfolk, Caplan was primarily known via his involvement with the Norfolk Port and Industrial Authority (N.P.I.A.), which oversaw the Norfolk International Terminals and Norfolk Municipal Airport, later becoming Norfolk Regional Airport in 1969 and eventually Norfolk International Airport in 1976. From 1962-1987, Caplan served on the N.P.I.A. Board of Commissioners, and was chairman from 1974-1987. During his time on the N.P.I.A. Board of Commissioners, the Norfolk airport grew from a municipal/ regional airport to an international airport. Caplan vehemently opposed the turnover of the Norfolk International Terminals to the Virginia Port Authority and he told the Virginian-Pilot in 1971 “the surreptitious handling of Norfolk’s interest in these matters concerns me, as it should our city fathers, for surely the port is our city’s heartbeat." Caplan’s opposition to the turnover was not successful and, the Norfolk International Terminal, along with terminals in Portsmouth and Newport News, became part of the Virginia Port Authority in July 1972. For his service with the N.P.I.A. and to the City of Norfolk, Caplan was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation in July of 1987 for “recognition of valuable and distinguished service on the Norfolk Port and Industrial Authority." Two months later, he was honored with a resolution from Norfolk Mayor Joseph A. Leafe that recognized Caplan as an “advocate of tourism and promotion of the City of Norfolk with regard to the use of air travel,” and as serving  “as the Port and Industrial Authority’s Representative with the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau." Caplan was also honored with a bronze plaque in the lobby of Norfolk International Airport. Other areas of interest for Caplan were city and state politics and religion. He was the co-chair of Roy Martin’s City of Norfolk council campaign and served as the “unofficial first campaign manager” for Stanley C. Walker, as well as working on campaigns to elect various state senators and delegates from Norfolk. Caplan was a charter member of the local Alpha Zadek Alpha fraternity, Chairman of the Community Relations Committee of the Norfolk Jewish Community Council, assisting in the formation of the Hillel Club at Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary, and a past president of the Tidewater B’nai B’rith lodge. Education continued to be an interest for Caplan throughout his life. Along with former members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Caplan helped establish an informal group named the Monday Morning Group, which met on Wednesdays and featured speakers representing a wide variety of Norfolk civic affairs. Caplan was also active in the Old Dominion University Alumni Association, Norfolk Division Executive Committee. Caplan passed away in Norfolk on April 13, 2003. Sources used for biographical/historical note: Irwin Berent. Norfolk, Virginia: A Jewish History of the 20th Century. (Norfolk, VA: Jewish History, 2001): vii. Caplan, Paul G. ODU Alumni Directory 2001. (Norfolk, VA: Bernard Harris Publishing Company, 2001): 173. Obituaries. Virginian Pilot. “Paul Caplan.” April 15, 2003. B8. Paul G. Caplan, President, Arnold Gamsey Lodge No. 1195 of B’nai B’rith, 1962-1963. The Papers of Paul G. Caplan, Box 1, Folder 3, Special Collections, Old Dominion University Libraries, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA. Norfolk International Airport Mission and Historic Highlights. From Accessed on 15 August 2005. Business. The Virginian-Pilot.  “Ex-NPIA Chairman Caplan Dies.” April 15, 2003. D2. Awards-Transportation Related.  The Papers of Paul G. Caplan, Box 1, Folder 1, Special Collections, Old Dominion University Libraries, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA. City of Norfolk Resolution, September 22, 1987. The Papers of Paul G. Caplan, Box 1, Folder 7, Special Collections, Old Dominion University Libraries, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.

Note written by Kathleen Smith and Susan Catlett

Language of Materials



Norfolk pharmacist. Chaired the board of the Norfolk Port and Industrial Authority, which runs Norfolk International Terminals and the Norfolk International Airport, for thirteen years and was a board member from 1962 to 1987. Served on several political campaign committees, including those of Roy B. Martin and Stanley Walker. Was very active in civic affairs, including the Norfolk Junior Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Jaycees, United States Jaycees, Tidewater Chapter of the American Red Cross, Norfolk Jewish Community Council, and the Virginia Zoological and Aquarium Society.

Arrangement Note

This collection is broken down into groups based on when they were given to Special Collections and University Archives: Record Group 1: First Accession; and Record Group 2: Second Accession. Each record group is further organized into series within each record group.

Source of Acquisition

Gift of Irwin Berent

Method of Acquisition

Gift. Accession #A2003-2. An addition to the collection was donated to Special Collections and University Archives in 2018.

Related Materials

Lawrence Morgan Cox, Sr. Papers (MG 38); Mason Andrews Papers (MG 62).

Processing Information

The collection was further processed by Mona Farrow in March 2017. The second accession was arranged and described by Kathleen Smith in 2019.

A Guide to the Paul G. Caplan Papers
Kathleen Smith and Susan Catlett, August 2005; Revised by Sonia Yaco, June 2008; Revised by Kathleen Smith in July 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 08/01/2019: Finding aid and box list was updated by Mona Farrow in March 2017.

Repository Details

Part of the ODU Community Collections Repository

3000 Perry Library
4427 Hampton Blvd.
Norfolk VA 23529 US