Jacob M. Kaplan

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Biographical Information

Jacob Merrill Kaplan (died in 1987) founded the J. M. Kaplan Fund in 1947. His daughter is Joan K. Davidson.

"Born Dec. 23, 1891, in Lowell, Mass., Mr. Kaplan was an enthusiastic supporter of cooperatives all his life. He grew up poor, attending public schools near Boston and peddling soap in the streets to help feed the family. Then he left Massachusetts and spent 10 years in the sugar-producing countries of Latin America. Headed Molasses Company. He organized sugar planters as early as 1910. Thirty years later, he taught the wisdom of cooperative production to grape growers. Speaking of his hopes for housing cooperatives for the elderly in 1986, he said: If they are efficient, there's no reason it cannot work. I'll help....

He was a trustee of Freedom House and past chairman of the board of trustees of the New School, which renamed its urban-studies institute in his honor on the occasion of his 90th birthday.

"Mr. Kaplan is survived by his wife of 61 years, Alice Manheim Kaplan, one of the city's leading art patrons; three daughters, Mrs. Davidson, of Manhattan and Germantown, N.Y., Elizabeth K. Fonseca of Manhattan and East Hampton, L.I., and Mary Ellen Kaplan of Manhattan; a son, Richard D. of Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla. - all of whom are trustees of the Kaplan Fund - and eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren." [1]

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  1. NYT Jacob Kaplan, Philanthropist, Is Dead, organizational web page, accessed April 22, 2012.