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Sentinel Publisher Dies at 95

Dr. Bernard Kapiloff remembered as surgeon, philanthropist, civil rights activist and crusading publisher of Montgomery Sentinel

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Dr. Bernard Kapiloff throws out a pitch during a Bay Sox game.

Dr. Bernard Kapiloff throws out a pitch during a Bay Sox game.

Published on: Thursday, October 11, 2012

By The Sentinel Staff, with love

Dr. Bernard Kapiloff, philanthropist, civil rights activist and long-time publisher of the Montgomery County Sentinel died at 95.

Friends and business acquaintances remember him as a powerful man in the community and a civil rights crusader.

“He was my surrogate father,” said Dr. Morton Mower, the inventor of the defibrillator. “I met him when I was a resident at Sinai and he was already a well-respected plastic surgeon. He was a mainstay of his community and very active in philanthropy. He had a very long and productive and useful life.”

Kapiloff died Wednesday of complications from a stroke he suffered in April.

“Bernie was one of a kind. He was small in stature but big in influence. He was a crusader for civil rights at a time when you did it at your peril,” said State Senator Brian Frosh. “He has many devoted friends because he was a mentor to so many. He saved countless lives because of his medical talents too. Many people are in his debt including me. I’m proud to call him my friend.”

Bernard, affectionately known as Bernie to many, was born Sept. 23, 1917 in New York, NY. 

Bernie had extensive knowledge in the medical field and worked at various universities including Howard University, Johns Hopkins and the University of Kansas. Bernie is survived by his wife of 51years Lynn Kapiloff, sons Mark Kapiloff, Michael Kapiloff, daughter Miriam Kapiloff, daughter-in-law Judy Kapiloff as well as grandchildren Rebecca and Hannah Rose. Funeral and burial services are pending.

In Rockville, where The Sentinel offices reside, Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio was saddened by his passing. “He was a super guy. I knew him when I was a kid. He was one of the first dentists to work on my teeth when I was a little girl. I remember he had an office above a Mercury dealership here in the city. My thoughts are with his family during this trying time. He will be missed,” Marcuccio said.

Bernie along with his older brother Leonard, bought The Montgomery County Sentinel in 1962. They immediately began crusading for Civil Rights, and helped exonerate two African American brothers in a nationwide story reminiscent of the story in “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

“Bernie’s reputation was well known in Montgomery County,” Brian Karem, the managing editor of The Sentinel said. “He held multiple degrees and was a developer, but his passion was The Sentinel and civil rights. There are many who owe a debt of gratitude to what he did for everyone in Montgomery County.”

He graduated from City College in New York City at a very young age. Then he got his masters degree at the University of Michigan, while he was in dental school at the University of Maryland. He obtained his Doctor of Dental Surgery in 1941and practiced for a short time while he went to medical school. He obtained his doctor of medicine degree from Howard University in 1945.

He was the only white man in that medical school class.

He was a founding member of the Health Cost Review commission and was a fellow in Surgery at Howard from 1948-49.

He maintained a long-standing relationship with Howard and was an associate professor there from 1950-72. He was a senior attending surgeon and Emeritus Chief of plastic surgery at Sinai where he met Dr. Mower.

He served on the Maryland State Health Services Cost Review Commission from 1971-77 and was instrumental in helping hospitals throughout the Baltimore area.

He was chief of plastic surgery Sinai Hospital until his retirement.

He was  a long-standing supporter of Israel and was the former President of the Maryland Council of the Jewish National Fund.

He was also an instructor of surgery at Johns Hopkins Medical School until 1980.

Born of modest means, Bernie was the quintessential self-made man.

“Bernie was an extraordinary person. Bernie just wasn’t a dentist who published a paper. His record in civil rights is astounding. His work in the Scotland community was amazing. He worked so hard to help those folks in that community get decent housing when the county would do nothing. His work and dedication to the Civic Federation was greatly appreciated. He was a phenomenal man. My heart goes out to the family,” said Jim Humphrey of the  Montgomery County Civic Federation.

At the state level, Bernie also made his presence felt. “My thoughts are with Bernie’s family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time. It is important to remember the significance of this man’s legacy that will live on for generations. Part of that gift is the community institution nurtured by Bernie for decades - The Sentinel Newspapers. His efforts produced fair, just and important community journalism in the same way he championed a more fair and just society.  I will miss our regular conversations and, like many whose lives he has touched through the years, I will always remember and treasure his articulate voice, both in person and on the printed page,” said attorney general Doug Gansler.

Governor Martin O’Malley also offered his sentiments on Bernie. “Bernie was a great spirit and great gentleman who cared deeply about his community and his State. His zeal and love of life will be missed by all of us who had the privilege to know him."

The funeral will be Thursday at 1 p.m. at Sol Levinson in Pikesville.

Reader Comments - 3 Total

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Posted By: Sylvia Drew Ivie On: 5/20/2013


Mrs. Kapiloff please accept the condolences of t the family of Dr. Charles Drew. your husband was a resident with my father at Howard University. When my father died in 1950 your husband and the other surgical residents took turns coming over to teach my mother how to drive. she was just 37 and had 4 children 9,8,6 and 4 to raise. It was a wonderfully loving and helpful gesture in memory of my father.

Posted By: Paul Mountjoy On: 12/20/2012

Title: Paul Mountjoy-psychologist

I worked for "Bernie" for a short period and found him to be non-pretentious, did not suffer fools yet was willing to help anyone who need it in earnest.
His storied life was long and fruitful and I wish the Kapiloff's Godspeed and the strength to carry forth.

Posted By: Elaine Madoff On: 10/15/2012

Title: With sympathy

My most sincere sympathy to the members of Dr. Kapiloff's family. His many accomplishments will have an everlasting impact on so many. May you be comforted by knowing this to be true.


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