David Karpeles is remembered for his legacy, his collection of manuscripts

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David Karpeles co-founded the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum with his wife Marsha.

David Karpeles, who co-founded the Karpeles Manuscript Library, was a Santa Barbara historian, scholar, and entrepreneur known for his accomplishments that benefited Santa Barbara County and the nation.

His life began at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he was born on January 26, 1936. He died there 86 years later, almost to the day, on January 19, 2022.

“He led a fascinating and remarkable life which had a positive effect on everyone he met,” his family said in an email to The News-Press. “His intelligence, analytical skills, creativity and humor were a gift to all who knew him,”

His family moved in 1942 from Santa Barbara to Duluth, Minnesota. He graduated from Denfeld High School in Duluth at age 17 and went on to study at the University of Minnesota in Duluth, majoring in math and physics.

He was a substitute instructor at age 19 at the University of Duluth.

He graduated with honors in 1956 from the University of Minnesota Duluth, completing his bachelor’s degree in three years. He continued in mathematics as a master’s student at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, while serving as a graduate instructor in the department.

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The flagship museum of the Karpeles Manuscript Library is on Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara.

Mr Karpeles met his wife Marsha while teaching in Minneapolis

“He was asked on a double date and agreed to go,” his son, Mark Karpeles, told News-Press in a phone interview. “When they went to pick her up, it was dark outside. After talking with her parents for a few minutes, they left, but my father hadn’t really seen her yet.

“As they walked away from the door, my dad was like, ‘I need to see what I’ve got,'” Mark recalled. the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and I knew I wanted to marry her right away.

“They were married for 63 years. But they were so opposite in so many ways,” Mark told News-Press.

David Karpeles returned to Santa Barbara as a research analyst for the General Electric Tempo Division in 1963 and began teaching mathematics at Santa Barbara City College and Westmont College while beginning work for a doctorate at the University from California.

David earned his Ph.D. in Biblical Historicity and his Ph.D. in History from Atlantic International University. He also received an honorary doctorate from the State University of New York.

At General Electric, David proposed the use of the first working optical character recognition program for handwriting.

He also developed an artificial intelligence program, allowing staff to interrogate a computer using the English language without restriction. The program analyzed the syntax of the question, determined its meaning and gave the appropriate answer.

David started investing in real estate in 1968. His real estate investments have grown to over 300 homes.

“That first one he owned was a little house on a big lot, on the Mesa,” Mark said. “That’s how it all started. It was his real estate investments that allowed him to leave General Electric and become an entrepreneur.

“He provided 300 single parent rental properties to tenants,” Mark continued. “When he sold the property, he always gave the tenant the first chance to buy and offered creative financing opportunities. He probably helped more people become homeowners than anyone else in the Santa area. -Barbara.

David received an award in 1981 from California Governor Jerry Brown for developing a plan to provide affordable housing.

And David started buying manuscripts with the profits he made from his real estate investments.

He went to the Huntington Library in the Pasadena area, and he couldn’t believe what they had to offer. He therefore spoke with the curator to find out where and how to acquire manuscripts.

He started bidding on his early manuscripts between 1978 and 1979 and won. It got him hooked. He bid and bought manuscripts for over 40 years.

As he began to accumulate manuscripts, David decided he wanted to allow the public access to them and opened the first of many museums at the Karpeles Manuscript Library in Tacoma, just south of Seattle.

The flagship library is at 21 W. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara. The other libraries are located across the country, in cities ranging from Buffalo, NY, to St. Louis.

David constantly studied the history and religion of the United States. He also had a large collection of maps, which can be viewed at the Manuscript Museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The museums are open to scholars and the general public with no admission charge.

“We plan to keep the museums in operation,” Mark told News-Press.

The family noted that David’s collection had become the largest private collection in the world.

Archives include literature, science, religion, political history, music, exploration and art.

Its aim was to stimulate interest in learning, especially among children.

“He was a very sweet person,” Mark said. “I’ve never seen him scream in his entire life. If you said anything he didn’t agree with, he didn’t say anything at all. He cared about everyone and he wanted help society, but he didn’t want to give his all.”

Mark said David liked to joke, never swore, never smoked, never drank.

“Whenever the doctors asked him if he smoked or drank, he would say ‘I have no vices but I have no virtues.’ It was his favorite saying.

In their statement to News-Press, the Karpeles family noted, “David was a loving husband and father. His contributions to society will have an eternal effect.

David Kareples is survived by his wife, Marsha, whom he married a year after they met in 1957 and who co-founded the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum with him; four children, Mark, Leslie (Szumowski), Cheryl (German) and Jason; the spouses of his children, Joann, Tim, Bob and Jennifer and 10 grandchildren: Alexis, Kate, Nick, James, Michelle, Alan, Ethan, Alex, Henry, Isabelle. David is also survived by his brother, Elliott and his wife Donnalyn.

Email: [email protected]

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