AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A man living with Multiple Sclerosis who died this month from COVID-19 will be remembered as a loving father, husband, brother, and son by his family as well as an inspiration to so many who saw him fight the disease for two decades. His sisters say Scott Kaplan‘s example offers lessons for everyone during the coronavirus pandemic.

Scott Kaplan (credit CBS)

“It was a little on the surreal side, I know he was there in the casket but it didn’t feel like it was real,” said Marci Kaplan, his sister who attended the funeral on Wednesday. “My youngest nephew cried the entire time and my oldest nephew tried to be strong for everybody else there.”

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Immediate family, including his parents, wife, and two sons were at the service but many more watched it online. A reminder of the challenges because of coronavirus, the inability to have a traditional burial because of concerns about spreading the virus.

“It was extremely hard because I haven’t been able to be near my family this entire time,” said Samantha Dunham, his sister living in Massachusetts. “Seeing my brother’s casket was extremely difficult, I held it together for the majority of time until I heard my parents’ voice and then I kind of lost it.”

The loss of their brother is still sinking in for his two sisters. Their whole family has yet to process that he is gone. But they are comforted by the memories of their time together. Both sisters are proud of the father he became to their nephews. But they also shared that in his final days while in the hospital because of COVID-19, he made the effort to check with his employer to see if they had the safety equipment to keep others from catching the virus.

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Scott Kaplan (credit: Dee Nice)

“I just have been thinking about how I’m not going to see that smile again,” Kaplan said on a video conference call Friday. “I’m going to miss watching him coach his sons in baseball and basketball and watch him be the proud father that he is.”

Both sisters play an important role in the lives of their nephews and they plan on that continuing now that they lost their father. All three loved baseball so they plan to take the boys to places that are special to the family and the sport when it is safe to travel again. The restrictions created by the pandemic are far reaching but the impact on Kaplan’s funeral alone was so frustrating for the family.

(credit: Scott Kaplan)

“Nobody one should have to watch their loved ones being buried from afar, let alone virtually,” Dunham said on the same video conference call. “This is something that I feel should never have happened nor should anyone have to be placed in this type of position.”

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Coronavirus may have taken his life but the family wants people to remember the incredible years he spent fighting MS well before this outbreak. A regular participant in fundraising events, people across Colorado knew him for his work related to the disease.

Shawn Chitnis