The following narrative is a continuation of a series of how a member was introduced to Rotary and subsequent memories. If you would like Rotary to be part of your life's story, please contact Alison Proctor at 


Bob Caplan

Joined Rotary April 1, 1992

May, 2023



April Fool’s Day in 1992 found me joining Rotary thanks to Mike Davidson. Mike was a charter member of our club. I was sharing office space with him after venturing forth to open my own CPA firm in Foster City in October 1991. Although I had lived in Foster City for about ten years, I had been working elsewhere, and I realized I didn’t know many people in town. Mike knew that branching out socially in the area where I was now doing business could be beneficial. He told me that the “movers and shakers” of Foster City, people who were making decisions about where I lived and now worked, belonged to the Rotary Club. He invited me to a meeting.

Mike was right. I was impressed with the enthusiasm and camaraderie at the club. I found those attending were positive and cared deeply about Foster City, as well as the world. Very soon I became a an active member.

As with most Rotarians, my involvement took various forms. In the late 90s I served as treasurer. For a couple of years I chaired “One Warm Coat,” an annual clothing drive where members sat outside local markets and encouraged residents to contribute their coats and other warm items. We delivered many bags of coats to Samaritan House in time for the winter holidays.

2001 was a difficult year for me. In the space of several months, I lost my father, separated from my wife, and had considerable conflict with my three daughters. It was friends from Foster City Rotary who helped me turn my life around. Stan Pond took me to lunch and boosted my spirits by telling me that as a divorced man in my 50s I would be a “hot commodity,” and good things would come my way. Terry Shannon approached me after a meeting and said he could see I was down, but he predicted I would find someone wonderful, and my life would totally change for the best. I’ve often thought he must have been psychic, because about a month after that, another friend introduced me to someone wonderful indeed. Laura and I were married in 2003. Twenty years later we are still living our best life.

When Laura and I were dating, I took her to my first Rotary District Conference, which was held at the Tenaya Lodge near Yosemite. During the day we explored Yosemite, including a climb to Nevada Falls. At night we attended the District Conference. All the Foster City Rotarians were gracious and welcoming. We especially enjoyed our conversation with two Group Study Exchange (GSE) participants from Israel. We learned so much. Later Laura and I hosted a woman from Finland through GSE. GSE was a truly wonderful Rotary program that allowed for valuable cultural sharing and personal connections. I hope someday it is reinstated.

In 2012 Larry Lowenthal asked me if I was interested in being President of the Club for the 2014-2015 Rotary year. I was surprised, as at that time I was not on the Board and, busy with work, family and travel, I had not taken on any big roles in Rotary.

I knew Laura would need to be in agreement for me to take on such an honor, and such a commitment. The first thing I did was look up the location of the 2014 Rotary International Convention. It turned out to be Sydney, Australia. We love to travel and we had never been to Australia. It was perfect.

Laura was an enthusiastic partner at the convention that June and very supportive during my year as President. I strongly encourage any Rotarian to attend an International Convention. It’s a terrific high to be around 20,000 or more Rotarians, all with a positive view of what we can accomplish.

I feel as though I really lucked out with having Chris Gallagher as my District Governor. Not only was she a magnificent DG, but she became a good friend. I was honored to be an MC at her District Conference in Disneyland. She even let me tell a very punny joke.

During my year as President, with the help of two special members, I made a couple of additions to our weekly meetings: Rel Kempf shared a “joke of the day,” and Dan Deemers of Hillbarn Theater led us in a Rogers and Hammerstein “song of the month.” It was a fun way to change things up with a bit of laughter and song.

As I look back on that year, I can see how it got me to grow and use skills I may not have focused on or refined before, such as building consensus, managing meetings, and public speaking. If you are thinking of a leadership role in Rotary, I’d be happy to talk to you about the experience.

Several years ago, I was asked to be a member of District 5150’s finance committee. The committee reviews each District Governor’s budget and oversees the resources of our district. It has been rewarding to participate with the committee’s other members. All of them have a finance or accounting background, and we are led by Ron Gin, our former District Governor.

This year I accepted the position of Rotary Foundation Chair for our club. This is a position that Mike Hoffman did magnificently for many years. My job is to encourage our members to contribute to The Rotary Foundation (TRF). I am deeply impressed with the level of stewardship of TRF. In my years as a CPA, I have seen many charities with very high salaries and overhead where little goes to the ultimate charitable purpose. TRF has an overhead of only about five percent, which is exemplary. In my view it’s an excellent and well-managed charity. I’d be glad to talk to any member about the many ways one can contribute to The Rotary Foundation.

This year I was particularly excited to see Rotary install its First Woman President, Jennifer Jones. As a father of four daughters, it has troubled me that Rotary’s presidents were exclusively male. I have always been proud to be a Rotarian, and now I feel that pride even more.

I continue to be active in the club and participate with our fundraisers, although I no longer live or work in Foster City. Our home is in the North Fair Oaks area of Menlo Park, and a few years ago I moved my CPA practice to San Mateo. At that time I also took on a partner, and I have been starting to phase out my work, moving toward eventual retirement. As I become less involved in my business, I look forward to participating more in the club, the district, and perhaps in an international project.