Born in Poland on Feb. 4, 1921, David Czapelski was one of five children of an impoverished farmer who raised geese to sell their meat, fat and feathers. During World War II, he eluded the Nazis but wound up in Soviet labor camps until he was conscripted into military service.
After spending a few postwar years in Germany, he immigrated to the U.S. with Fela in the early 1950s. He and his brother worked at a relative's grocery store in Detroit before founding their Los Angeles real estate company in 1955. They changed the spelling of their family name to Schapelski and then adopted Shapell after settling in the U.S.
In 1979, Shapell's three children persuaded him and his wife to revisit the Polish hometowns that held painful memories for them. Fela, who was imprisoned in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, was from the town of Auschwitz. Shapell was from Wolbrom, where the Nazis removed several thousand Jews and shot the remaining 300 men after marching them to a mass grave. His father was probably among them.
David Shapell and his family made a name for themselves creating and supporting Jewish and Israeli organizations. We are proud to be one of the many organizations dealing with the memory of the Holocaust that this foundation supports.
(Excerpts taken from the Los Angeles Times)