Information provided by Leo P Gallagher & Son Funeral Home
Nancy Margaret Caplan of Old Greenwich, a longtime civic leader and chairwoman of the Greenwich Board of Parks and Recreation, passed away Saturday, October 28 at the age 60.
She had been battling cancer for over two-and-a-half years. She chose to keep her illness private, preferring not to worry friends or have people view her differently.
Despite her public role as chair of the Board of Parks and Rec, Nancy worked more behind the scenes, allowing those around her to receive recognition.
She was a leader in the fight for a town dog park and re-established the Friends of Binney Park, a nonprofit created to supplement town funding to enhance and beautify the landscape. She was putting together “Binney Baskets,” a fundraiser she created, until days before her passing.
As a member and president of the Friends of Greenwich Point, Nancy led initiatives to pay for improvements, including Adirondack-style chairs on the bluff, the “Barefoot on the Beach” dinner fundraiser, Images of Greenwich Point —a bound collection of artwork from local artists depicting Greenwich Point, and the annual Greenwich Point holiday ornaments.
Concerned by the rise of nonnative plant species at the Point, Nancy researched ways, such as bringing in goats, to remove invasives and restore the natural beauty. She also organized the first “Dune Raising” at Greenwich Point, spearheading the restoration of the entrance dune washed away by Super Storm Sandy and the planting of over 20,000 plugs of beach grass.
Born April 20, 1957, in Troy, NY, Nancy was the daughter of the late Joseph O’Brien and Helen Bailey O’Brien. She received her MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she was one of the few women in her class.
During her studies at RPI, Nancy was recruited by IBM. She worked for the company for 36 years in Vermont, Japan and Armonk, NY, recently retired as a financial analyst.
Soon after she and her husband Jack moved to town, Nancy became involved with the Junior League of Greenwich, where she was a sustaining member. She held various leadership roles within the League, and is credited with moving the annual Enchanted Forest fundraiser from the Eastern Greenwich Civic Center to the Greenwich Hyatt.
When her daughter’s Girl Scout troop needed a leader, Nancy stepped up. She received awards from Girl Scouts USA for her leader skills, and later became head of the service unit, being known for her creative events and leading two trips overseas.
When her daughter was at Old Greenwich Elementary School, Nancy was an innovative member of the school’s Parent Teacher Association, creating unique events such as “Science Day, “Artists and Authors Day,” and bringing Thermo Fisher Scientific’s BioBus to OG’s doorstep.
She is survived by her husband, Jack Caplan, and daughter Jennifer Caplan, both of Old Greenwich; a brother, Joseph O’Brien Jr., of Loudonville, NY; a sister, Janet Aram; and her two beloved dogs, Angel and Lulu. She was predeceased by a sister, Diane Parry-Hill.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Town of Greenwich Parks and Recreation Foundation. Please note if you would like the donation to go specifically to the Binney Park Restoration project.