Lawrence Kaplan died on Tuesday, Aug. 5. He was 98 years old. As a resident of Plandome Heights, Manhasset for 37 years, he left a legacy for all to remember.
Kaplan was an engaging man with sparkling blue eyes who was very much in love with his wife. He was an only child and wanted to make a difference in the world and leave a legacy. He received a proclamation by the Village of Plandome Heights last year as the oldest living resident, but he was much more than that. He wanted and did make a difference.
Born in Brooklyn as an only child, Kaplan attended P.S. 188 in Brooklyn and then New Utrecht High School for a year before moving on to Abraham Lincoln High School when it first opened in 1929. He graduated in 1933.
Kaplan was drafted into the military in 1942 and was sent to officer training school at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. His classmates there included former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Sen. Frank Church and former West Virginia Gov. Arch Moore.
He fought at Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland, the Bulge and Central Europe. He was also part of the Allied forces that helped liberate the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in 1945.
Kaplan photographed and mapped enemy positions so Air Force personnel could bomb the region and allow troops on the ground to advance.
Kaplan later received the New York State Conspicuous Service award, a citation from the Republic of France for “Liberation From German Domination,” and was profiled by Who’s Who in America.
Kaplan earned five battle stars during his time in Europe.
After the war, Kaplan began taking economics classes at Columbia University.
I had the opportunity to speak with the Kaplans in January as they prepared to be honored as one of the longest-married couples in the Town of North Hempstead. It was clear to see the couple was very devoted to one another. As Larry told me his story, it was clear that his experience as an only child gave him a desire to leave a legacy on this earth, especially after seeing the horrors of the WWII up close at the invasion of Normandy.
Kaplan met his wife Jeanne after taking a job teaching economics at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, where Jeanne was a teacher.
“I knew she was the one for me,” Kaplan said. “I knew he was the one I was going to marry.” Jeanne echoed the sentiments.
The couple married in 1946, months after they began dating. They were married 68 years and were honored at the Town of North Hempstead’s Valentine Day Celebration luncheon.
After the Kaplans married they moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked for the government for several years. Later they returned to New York, where he taught economics at Baruch College and became the chair of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s economics department.
The Kaplans moved to Manhasset in 1977. They had three children together, two daughters named Harriet and Marcia and a son named Sanford. The Kaplans have seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
On Nov. 2011, Pat Grace, former editor of the Manhasset Press, wrote an article on the efforts of Manhasset veterans, spearheaded by “Larry Kaplan” to establish a World War II memorial to education young people about the global initiative of the war.
The memorial recognizes the men and women in uniform throughout America who served during that catastrophic period, 1941-1945. It also honors the civilian population, all those who served the war effort by working in factories, building planes, tanks, trucks, jeeps and guns, buying war bonds, collecting scrap metal and planting victory gardens. The war had total civilian support as people worked together toward the common goal of victory. Manhasset’s memorial commemorates the service and sacrifice of America’s World War II generation, often referred to as the Greatest Generation.
According to many, but especially to the author, Lawrence Kaplan leaves an eternal legacy and his impact on this world.
Plandome Heights trustees held a moment of silence for Kaplan prior to the start of their village board meeting on Wednesday. A funeral service was held for Kaplan last Friday at Temple Judea.