The Los Angeles Times reported that Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan died Jan. 18, at the age of 96.
In a statement from her daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins said, “As you know, she fell and broke her leg in June and had been recuperating at home since then. It was only in the last few weeks that she started declining rapidly. She was such a remarkable woman, and was still very mentally sharp until the very end. As you can imagine, she continued to ask us daily “what good things happened at Frieda’s today” since she couldn’t go to the office any longer.”
Produce Marketing Association (PMA) CEO Cathy Burns said, “Frieda’s contributions to the fresh produce industry and consumer palate are many, such as the introduction and acceptance of a multitude of specialty/exotic fresh fruits and vegetables including the kiwifruit, Asian pear, chili pepper varieties and purple potatoes, to name just a few.”
“As a female business owner in an overwhelmingly male-oriented industry, Frieda provided an example to many aspiring women executives and, in conversations we shared, it was very apparent she always had an open door to those seeking a mentor and guidance. She also delighted in the fact that her daughters and granddaughter were carrying forward the torch she lit when she founded Frieda’s Inc. in 1962,” said Burns.
According to the LA Times, Dr. Rapoport Caplan was born to Russian immigrants in downtown LA and raised in Highland Park.
An LA Times article about Dr. Rapoport Caplan said, “Also a sales success was her introduction of packaged produce, an idea that spawned when customers in Chicago couldn’t tell the difference between the ginger and sunchokes they’d purchased from her. So Caplan found a solution: She labeled their products and added a note telling customers to call Frieda’s for recipes and more information.”
Cathy Burns also said, “Recently, PMA, through our Center for Growing Talent, honored Frieda with our Women’s Catalyst Award. The award recognizes an outstanding individual in the produce and floral industries who cultivates women’s potential by mentoring and fostering a path for leadership, development and participation. As seen during the award presentation at Fresh Summit 2019, countless women who have benefited from sitting under Frieda’s learning tree joined in our celebration of her.”
“Throughout her career, Frieda has been described as a fearless entrepreneur, product innovator, produce pioneer, trailblazer, icon and vanguard,” said Burns.
According to the LA Times, Dr. Rapaport Caplan’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, will continue on with the business.