By Addie Hurst
This was a really tough assignment: to interview two interesting, delightful people amid their vast collection of paintings and sculptures! Moreover, it is hard to summarize the lives and interests of Nancy and Jerry Kaplan in a brief space.
The Kaplans met at Washington University in St. Louis and were married in 1951. They lived in Kansas City for 16 years before moving to Boston. They have three children who have produced six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Jerry had been in the business world for quite a few years when he decided to become a sixth-grade teacher. He took graduate courses at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and then went to Harvard to get a Certificate of Advanced Study in Education Administration. He became a school principal in Hanover, NH, and then in Brookline, MA, for the next twenty-five years.
Jerry contracted infantile paralysis at the age of 16. He recovered almost totally but then, as happens to about 50% of polio patients, he developed what is known as “Post-Polio Syndrome,” which is a progressive debilitating disease. Has that slowed him down? Not one bit! He has been a guardian ad litem (advocate for children); has served on the boards of Pals (where he helped recruit, train, and place volunteers in schools), the Sarasota Education Foundation, and the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe; and he was active in the Education Task Force at Community Foundation of Sarasota. Now he continues to participate in a mentor program for new principals in Sarasota schools, a program which he started, and he continues to drive cancer patients to their appointments.
Nancy Kaplan is no slouch either! First she won a year’s scholarship in a Scholastic Art Competition to work on fashion illustrations. Then she got her Social Studies certification in Education from the University of Missouri. At the age of 50 she decided to get her RN degree from Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, MA. She then practiced nursing for the next 24 years. After that, she was a counselor for Planned Parenthood.
But these facts are just the history. Nancy is a very creative person. Her art work is testimony to that and there is lots of it in their apartment. It is hard to believe that one person has done so much, such varied work. Although she sold most of it over the years, there is still ample evidence of her many styles. The couple’s great collection of a varied selection of art work—glass, metal sculptures, wood—is a treasure to see!
Nancy has a stack of cookbooks, literally over six feet high, which she refers to but does not follow! (Their one complaint about living here is they have had so many invitations that they have only eaten at home twice!) Besides cooking, Nancy also enjoys playing bridge.
In addition, the Kaplans enjoy all that Sarasota has to offer—concerts, operas, ballet, and theater. So far, they claim, they have been overwhelmed by the warmth and friendship of the people they have met in Plymouth Harbor. Is it any wonder?