Amazing mother, entrepreneur, market researcher, friend, teacher, and mentor. Mary Elaine Lundin Caplinger (Mickey) joined the Lord in heaven on November 19, 2021. She was a young 78. Born in New Orleans to Elaine Sill Lundin and Edward Justin Lundin, Sr. she learned the values of her lifetime: love and defender of family, devotion to her Catholic faith, and mentor to so many lucky souls. After moving to Baton Rouge, Mickey studied at St. Joseph’s Academy and was a natural leader, serving as a class officer each year and attended Louisiana Girls State. Mickey attended Louisiana State University. She left LSU to support her family by teaching at St. Aloysius School. Putting others first was a priority throughout her life.
Mickey married Charles A. Caplinger III and moved to New Orleans where she raised their family, started numerous companies, and advised some of the most prominent firms in New Orleans. Mickey loved the people and culture of New Orleans and was very active in politics. Although few politicians lived up to her expectations, she was instrumental in getting them elected with effective marketing campaigns, including several governorships. Mickey served as an officer of the Alliance for Good Government, Regular Democratic Organization, Louisiana Dairy Board, Closer Walk Ministries with her dearest priest, Father Jeff Bayhi, and her favorite, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation Board. At a time when few ladies were in the corporate suite, Mickey advised many of our city’s executives and leaders. Her marketing career helped save Dixie Beer (the first time), developed the famous Popeye’s biscuit (that saved them), advised Smoothie King on franchising and expansion (grew them), and improved Tidewater’s employee relationships (kept them from sinking).
Although it has been years since she caught beads and doubloons or danced at Jazz Fest, Mickey loved the New Orleans festivities that offered the opportunity to meet new people and entertain. Her home was rarely locked and always available to guests and family eager to experience the excitement of New Orleans. Later in life, she built a house in Waveland, Mississippi, where she had spent most of her younger weekends with her parents, brothers, and sisters. Again, her door was never locked, there was always a meal for a guest, and she loved entertaining friends and family on the coast.
Egos, attitudes, and pretentiousness bored her. In her world, the first was last and the last was first. At Thanksgiving, you could have sat next to a bishop, homeless person, or perhaps a Russian defector; all were welcome at her table. Her children bequeathed her the title “friend of the friendless”, but she always taught by example by feeding those needy, bonding the charged, and mentoring the helpless. She never met a stranger and developed deep relationships with countless people. If she could help you, her last dollar was yours. Her nieces, nephews, and cousins were as close to her as her own children, but her grandchildren were most special. Mickey was happy to reschedule her calendar to attend a grandchild’s play, birthday party, or to just sit on a fishing pier with her grands; they were the twinkle in her eye. Mickey’s stories always kept us engaged, and she managed to conceal a life lesson in each and every one of them. To instill empathy and compassion, she often lamented “there are a million stories in the naked city.” She could convince you of the right path without you realizing you were being convinced. We will never know how many lives have been touched by Mickey, suffice to say that this world is a much better place for her living.
Taught by their parents that blood was blood, she shared a lifelong, resolute bond with all of her siblings, however Mickey was especially grateful for the absolute unwavering care given by her two dear sisters during her last years.
Mickey is survived by her three children and their spouses – Charlie and wife Rebel, Molly and husband Don Papania, and Ryan; five grandchildren – Addie, Connor, and Claire Caplinger, and Colin and Patrick Papania; her two devoted sisters – Mary Margaret (Babet) Waldrep and husband Rusty, Mary Althea (Honey) Bartholomew and husband Joe, five loving brothers – Ed Lundin, Jr. and wife Mady, Tommy Lundin and wife Darlene, Ricky Lundin and wife Jill, Walter Lundin and wife Jane, and Brien Lundin and wife Fran; and dozens of cousins, nephews, and nieces that cherished their relationship with Mickey.
Mickey had no interest in dragging her family and friends to a grave, so a memorial Mass will be held at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Mandeville at 10am on December 18, 2021, followed by a party at 226 Esquinance Dr. in Mandeville to celebrate how blessed we are to have had her for so many years. In lieu of flowers, please hug your family members and consider a donation to Closer Walk Catholic Communications or St. Jude Research Hospital.