Saturday, October 18, 2003

Mickey Kaplan dedicated life to arts, giving

There was 'no more generous person' in town, friends say

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

AMBERLEY VILLAGE - Mickey Kaplan, philanthropist and patron of the arts, died of a stroke Thursday at Jewish Hospital.

The Amberley Village resident was 74.

Her good works are numerous, but her spirit can be encapsulated with a single anecdote.

In 1999, when Mrs. Kaplan was approaching her 70th birthday, her husband, Dr. Stanley Kaplan, offered a gift of jewels - or perhaps a fur - or whatever else she desired.

She wanted a house - not for herself, but for a needy person. So Mr. Kaplan celebrated his wife's birthday by donating $45,000 - the cost of materials - for Habitat for Humanity to build a house.

"She was just one wonderful person - the most giving, kindest person you could imagine," her husband said. "She was certainly one of the most loved women in the city."

Longtime friend Stan Aronoff of Mount Lookout said, "Mickey has been 'Mickey' all her life - always warm, always generous, always understanding. Everyone who ever came in contact will miss her."

Mrs. Kaplan dedicated her life to giving.

"There was no more authentically generous person in this community than Mickey," said Charles Desmarais, of the Contemporary Arts Center.

"By that I don't only mean generous in financial terms but generous of spirit and generous with her love."

The organizations that enjoyed Mrs. Kaplan's beneficence include the Cincinnati Ballet, the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts, the Cincinnati Arts Association, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Contemporary Arts Center, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. She served on the boards of all of these, as well as of the School for Creative and Performing Arts.

The lobby at Playhouse in the Park and the new Contemporary Arts Center are named the Dr. Stanley and Mickey Kaplan Lobby, as will be the entrance to the addition to the Taft Museum of Arts when it is completed. The Jarson-Kaplan Theatre at the Aronoff Center honors the Kaplans as major donors.

"There's not an arts organization in town that hasn't been blessed with her generosity," Aronoff said.

For more than 35 years, Mrs. Kaplan was a board member of WCET-TV (Channel 48) and was a hands-on volunteer with the station's annual Action Auction.

Perhaps her most cherished work was for Jewish Hospital. For it was there that she met Stanley Kaplan while volunteering - at the insistence of her mother - during the summer of 1948 while on break from classes at the University of Cincinnati.

She was a member of the Cincinnati Park Board, and the boards of the University of Cincinnati Foundation and the Urban League.

The Kaplans received the Governor's Award for Art in 2000 and the Community Award from the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati in 1999.

Mrs. Kaplan grew up in Bond Hill and was a member of the Walnut Hills High class of 1946. Her father, Isaac Jarson, was a partner with Walter Gross of the Grandpop Bottling Co. Today it is G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Inc.

In addition to her husband of 53 years, survivors include a daughter, Barbara Chilcote, of Cleveland; two sons, Rick of Columbus and Steven of Fairfield Township; and two grandsons.

Visitation is 10:30 a.m. Monday, followed by the funeral at 11:30 at Plum Street Temple, Eighth and Plum streets, downtown.

Memorials are suggested to any arts fund in the city.


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