Stuart Ronald Kaplan

April 1, 1932February 9, 2021

Stuart Ronald Kaplan was born on April 1, 1932 in the Bronx. As a kid he loved playing stickball with his friends and getting an egg cream from the corner shop. He was one of five students in the inaugural class of Cardigan Mountain School in New Hampshire, graduating in 1947. In 2015 he was asked to deliver the commencement speech. He shared with the graduating students how that school experience had transformed him from a shy, skinny kid who had been reluctant to leave the familiarity of his neighborhood to an independent and adventuresome young man, who would embrace every opportunity life offered.

After graduation, the teenaged Stuart embarked on a 14-month solo adventure throughout Europe and the Middle East, culminating with a stay in the walled city of Laghouat, Algeria at the base of the Atlas Mountains. On New Year’s Eve Stuart wandered alone out into the vast desert. This would be a profound moment of realization for the young traveler. Taking in the expansiveness of the open desert, he knew he was ready to embrace the infinite possibilities that lay before him.

After completing his travels, Stuart applied to and was accepted at Le Sorbonne in Paris. While visiting Orleans in the Loire Valley, Stuart met a young American girl named Marilyn who would become his wife. After graduating Le Sorbonne, he attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. While a student he devised a card dating game, Student Survival, which his children and wife Marilyn would later help assemble in the basement of their Port Chester home, the very first of many jobs in their father’s business.

After graduation, Stuart worked on Wall Street managing coal mines and wrote an exhaustively researched book called Mining, Minerals and Geosciences in 1965. The book would sell millions and garnered major awards. In 1968 while travelling for business in Europe, he attended the Nuremberg Toy Fair in search of gifts for his children and game ideas. He discovered an intriguing deck of cards unlike anything he had ever seen before. He brought the pack of Swiss 1JJ tarot back to New York and started selling it to bookstores. The deck began to sell well but there was no instruction book available, so Stuart wrote Tarot Cards for Fun and Fortune Telling. With these products Stuart launched U.S. Games Systems, Inc. the first company to sell tarot products in the U.S. He chose the Fool tarot card as the company logo because it represents the willingness to take a leap of faith and follow an unchartered path. (And his birthday is April 1, April Fool’s Day) Stuart would go on to write other best-selling tarot books, as well as a four-volume Encyclopedia of Tarot. Stuart also acquired the rights to publish the Rider-Waite deck, illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith, which would become the most popular and beloved tarot deck in the world. Stuart made it his mission to bring Pamela Colman Smith the recognition she richly deserved. He spent years researching Smith and collecting her original art and publications, which would be showcased in his book Pamela Colman Smith: The Untold Story.

Stuart was also an avid collector of antiquarian books, ephemera, historical items, and vintage playing cards and games, particularly Authors Card Games. His impressive collections were displayed in major museums around the world. His last big research and writing project was The Authors Card Game Compendium. Stuart’s passion for work never waned, and it inspired everyone around him.

Stuart was an amazing and kind father to his five children and eight grandchildren. He was a Boy Scout Troop leader and enjoyed camping, fishing and road trips with the family. During later years, while running his company he somehow found the time and energy to play tennis with old friends. Besides his family, Stuart leaves behind his loving partner of 24 years, Bobbie Bensaid and their beloved dog Lili.

Stuart’s gentle and generous nature attracted many wonderful employees to U.S. Games over the years and he grew the company into a loving second family. He was committed to doing good in the world - with his family, friends, business, and community. We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Stuart Ronald Kaplan

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John Mangiapane

February 19, 2021

Bless you, Mr. Kaplan! The world of Tarot cards and Readers owe a debt of gratitude to you for preserving and making the Rider Waite Smith deck the most popular deck in the world. Rest in Peace.
John Mangiapane, Tarot Reader, author, and Tarot deck designer

MARK manero

February 17, 2021

Mr. Kaplan was one of my first customers when i started my buisness 36 years ago. he always helped me out and was always great person to talk to and listen to. great man, smart man, Mrs. Kaplan was also one of the nicest people in the world, great kids and they had a pet dog years ago, and lily, i knew he loved that dog too. he will be missed by many. very sad he has passed. sincerly, mark manero

Eric Volk

February 15, 2021

Each day I am using tarot, I am using a piece of Stuart. Thank you for what you did for the tarot community. You will be greatly missed.

David Johnson

February 14, 2021

I was witness for one of his company holiday parties in December. He was like a proud father looking onto the event and a true father to every employee. He was my "game" teacher and had a deep antique game knowledge base. I always enjoyed my time just talking with him. Sorrow is the price we pay for love, Queen Elizabeth II. There is a little more sorrow in the world because he was so loved. He was an angle in life and now it is official.

James Plogger

February 13, 2021

As a professional Tarot Consultant I pick up a piece of Mr Kaplan every day. What he did for us and the great debt we owe to him can never be paid. Thank you for everything ❤. G-d bless you and your family. Shalom.

Mary McCauley

February 12, 2021

I send my condolences to Mr. Kaplan's family. Mr. Kaplan, rest in peace and thank you for sharing your enthusiasm and collections of Tarot cards with the world. You have created much enjoyment for many of us over the years. You were instrumental in bringing Tarot cards to the masses, not only in the U.S. but across the world...

Lisa Hanrahan

February 11, 2021

Dear Kaplan family,

Rockpool Publishing is very sad to hear of Stuarts' passing. He was a very clever Publisher and a gentleman. We are honoured to have worked with him and share his love of beautiful product and quality writing. We hope to see his legacy live on.

Kind Regards,
Lisa Hanrahan
Publishing Director
Rockpool Publishing

Nancy Rosin

February 11, 2021

Stuart was such a genuine, kind gentleman – I am heartbroken at his passing -- we just shared such positive emails a month ago! Our special friendship began through The Ephemera Society of America, where he sat on our Board, and it became deep, lasting, and personal. He proudly shared his collections, his office, and the beautiful home he and Bobbi created. He was a treasure, and I will cherish the memory of his friendship. To the entire family, I send my most sincere condolences. May he rest in peace.

Bruce Shyer

February 11, 2021

I was very saddened to hear of Stuart’s passing. Stuart was a long-time, enthusiastic supporter of The Ephemera Society of America, Inc. He was generous with both his time and expertise. I had the pleasure of serving with him on its Board of Directors. He generously hosted an amazing dinner for the Society in Greenwich. He was the consummate gentleman, always willing to do something kind and helpful for others. The entire ephemera community will dearly miss him and will always honor his memory. My deepest sympathies to his family, Bruce Shyer

Amy Zerner & Monte FArber

February 11, 2021

We always were so fond of Stuart. We were greatly influenced in our careers by his Aries enthusiasm - he bravely kept the torch of tarot alive and shining. He planted the seed in our hearts and minds of our Enchanted Tarot, encouraging it to come to life. So happy that he did! He was great fun to be around and so savvy about art and ideas and how a project should come to life. RIP.