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Lawrence Kaplan, World War II vet, dies at 98

Lawrence J. Kaplan, a World War II veteran

Lawrence J. Kaplan, a World War II veteran and longtime Manhasset resident, died at 98. Credit: Incorporated Village of Plandome Heights

Lawrence J. Kaplan, a World War II veteran and longtime Manhasset resident, died Aug. 5 at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset of a heart-related disease. He was 98.

Born in the Bronx to Harris and Estelle Kaplan, Kaplan and his family moved to Brooklyn where he attended and graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island.

He received his bachelor's degree in economics from Brooklyn College and his master's in economics from Columbia University.

From December 1942 to November 1945, he served in the Army where he was trained for the Military Intelligence Service and assigned to the Sixth Armored Division. He received five battle stars in Europe under Gen. George S. Patton. Kaplan also received the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross.

After the war, Kaplan moved back to Brooklyn and attended Columbia University, from which he received his doctorate in economics in the early 1950s. While getting his degree, he would often substitute for teachers at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, where he met his wife, Jeanne Leon, who was also a substitute teacher.

Seven weeks after meeting, the two were married at the Jewish Communal Center in Brooklyn.

"We were married 68 years and we have a beautiful romance," Leon of Manhasset said.

Afterward, the two moved to Washington, D.C., where they lived a little more than a year and a half before moving back to New York, where Kaplan worked as an information officer with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 1957, he was appointed an economist in New York City's Department of City Planning.

Kaplan was appointed director of research and planning in 1962 for the defunct city Department of Relocation.

In 1965, when John Jay College of Criminal Justice opened, Kaplan was offered the position of associate professor of economics. He became a full professor five years later.

In 1977, the couple moved to Manhasset, where they resided for 37 years.

Kaplan retired from John Jay in 1986 but continued as an adjunct professor for several years.

He served as chairman of the Retirees Chapter and revitalized the Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations of New York City. The council, which had been dormant for several years, was revived by Kaplan with the support of several large public retiree unions in New York City. It now represents more than 150,000 retirees.

In addition, Kaplan gave lectures on retirement and financial planning to the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and wrote seven books and many articles on economics and retirement.

He was also a member of several Jewish and veterans organizations and played a role in encouraging the building of a World War II memorial in Manhasset in 2011.

He often enjoyed playing the "golden oldies" on the piano, especially "I'll be Loving You Always," the couple's wedding song.

"He was a very warm person," Leon said. "He was very happy at any family function; he loved his family and loved his children."

In addition to his wife, Kaplan is survived by three children, Harriet Trackman of Atlanta; Sandford "Sandy" S. Kaplan of Lincoln, Nebraska; and Marcia Pavone of Chantilly, Virginia; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Aug. 8 at Temple Judea in Manhasset. He was buried at Mount Lebanon Cemetery in Brooklyn.

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