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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Hey MrK

By Dr. Laundry August 4, 2006

As you may have noticed, I needed to step away for a few days for personal business. While preparing for the introductory event at the Bliss Spa displayed in my last entry, I received an unexpected phone call from my wife that my brother-in-law had taken a sudden turn for the worse. A very quick drive to Orange County allowed my daughter and me the opportunity to see Marshall as he prepared to come home to hospice care on Friday. I left for the New York event on Sunday morning, completed it, and was in the car on my way to the airport Wednesday morning when my wife called to say Marshall had passed away.

The following is a tribute to a wonderful person who left a huge impact on everyone he met.


Marshall J. Klapman was 43 and died from leukemia. He was the kind of parenting challenge that every parent dreads. After wandering for a number of years, he found his calling/passion: teaching. While usually unorthodox in his approaches, he always took a personal interest in each of his “scholars.” He volunteered to teach combination classes that others found too hard/challenging and he always made time for any student. His encouragement led to many kids feeling safe to step out and try the difficult and “impossible’ with amazing, confidence building results. Known affectionately as Mr. K, his last 7 years at El Morro Elementary in Laguna Hills were his favorite, as he finally felt he had hit his stride. When the illness struck, he longed for the chance to return to his colleagues and students.

One can gauge the impact of a person by reading the growing stack of personal notes that arrived as word of his passing began to circulate. He had obviously touched an extremely wide circle of people. Current and former students wrote such touching notes that tears streamed down your cheeks and several Kleenex were needed to absorb this outpouring of the impact Marshall had on each and every one of their lives. As touching were the notes from colleagues. There are always people you meet as you go about your daily profession who stand out. Well, Marshall surely had to be one of those people as the lengthy notes kept coming. Then, there were the wide range of friends some who knew the dramatic fatal path that he was traveling and others that were not close by. Whether from his early childhood and those he had collected along the way, all were totally devastated at the news of his passing. Marshall brought such vigor to life. He loved to travel and attend live concerts and theater. But most of all he loved to cook and entertain. Always the life of the party, he was the ultimate host making sure each person felt welcome and comfortable.

From all of this you can tell what a huge hole has been left in his immediate family. His partner and best friend, Tom, had done everything to make Marshall comfortable but had to watch as this vibrant person fought to stave off the leukemia. Tom was just recovering from the loss of his own father within the month. His parents, Norman and Toby, continue to try and put a good spin on the loss of their youngest child but having your youngest pass before is extremely tough on any parent. His sisters, Karen and Meryl, have always counted on Marshall to be the balance in the family and now that is gone. Then there are our children, Brandon and Mallory, who have always used Uncle as their sounding board and outside council when life throws you a curve ball. Always with sage advice and generous heart, he had such a positive impact on helping shape the super young people they are today. Each in their own way now has a huge hole to plug as they go forward in life.

Gone but never to be forgotten….. as the license plate says “HEY MR K” it certainly was a great one!! Miss ya bud….