JOEL S. KAPLAN, 53 ROCKFORD - Joel S. Kaplan, 53, of Rockford died at 2:55 a.m. Friday, Oct. 16, 2009, in OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center. Born Jan. 21, 1956, in Jamacia, N.Y., the son of Herbert and Betty (Owen) Kaplan. Received his bachelor's degree from Beloit College. Married Debi Hirst on April 23, 2005, in Rockford. He was the owner of Forest City Communications. Former owner of Joel's Restaurant, which had previously been Jungle Jim's. Active member of Zion Lutheran Church, where he was very involved with the youth group there. He also was involved with Toys for Tots for 10 years, Lions Club Rose Day for eight years and a coach for the Nelson-Storm Football Team. Joel was a very caring, compassionate and charismatic man. He played such a vital role in his family's life, and he will be impossible to replace. Joel always said, "In the family tree, I'm the sap." But in our family, he was the roots. He kept us together and always kept us grounded. Survivors include his wife, Debi; sons, Andrew and Daniel Kaplan; stepdaughter, Samantha Sievers; father, Herb Kaplan; sister, Jill Ankney; brother, Randy Kaplan; niece, Jessie Ankney; and nephew, Kyle Ankney. Predeceased by his mother. Service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, in Zion Lutheran Church, with visitation from 10 a.m. to service time; the Rev. Loren Nielsen and the Rev. Gerald Peterson will officiate. Visitation also from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, in Fitzgerald Funeral Home and Crematory, Mulford Chapel, 1860 S. Mulford Road. Memorials may be made to the family. Condolences can be shared at www.fitzgeraldfh.com.
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Published in Rockford Register Star from Oct. 18 to Oct. 24, 2009