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Yale 62

Steven B. Kaplan


Born: April 9, 1940
Died: February 9, 2020

Steven Kaplan died on February 9, 2020, at his home in New York City of complications associated with Parkinson’s Disease after a very successful career in the women’s clothing industry.

Steven was a life-long New Yorker, born in New York City, son of Sylvia Kamenstein Kaplan and Nathan Harry Kaplan. He prepared for Yale at Riverdale Country School in New York.

Steve was a resident of Branford College and an Honors major in sociology and history of art. He was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, Hillel and Book and Snake. He played Freshman football and lacrosse earning numerals in both. Classmate Peter Sipple, a fellow member of Book and Snake, remembers Steve as “a witty, outgoing and gregarious fellow who enjoyed our experiences together. He was warmly welcomed by the others just as he himself was welcoming.”

After Yale, Steve graduated from Harvard Business School and then joined Lane Bryant in 1964. He rose to become President and a Director. After he retired from Lane Bryant, Steve embarked on various ventures in the flower industry until retiring due to his advancing Parkinson’s symptoms.

Steve is survived by his beloved lifetime companion of 44 years, Brenda Johnson, his two sons Michael and Nick, daughter-in-law Lauren (Nick’s wife), two granddaughters, Phoebe and Stella, sister Susan Diamond and sister-in-law Joan Kaplan, widow of Steve’s brother Richard, Yale ’56.

Steve brought passion, determination, fun and humor to all aspects of his life, including business, piano, football, his many life-long friendships and, most importantly, being a father. He did not let his disease define him and fought hard so he could make the most of his time with family and friends.

Classmate Alex Garvin, Steve’s friend from childhood, volunteered to write an appreciation of Steve’s life which captured his friendship and his warm personality. I reprint it below in its entirety.

“I met Steve when I entered 4th grade at Riverdale Country School. We occupied very different worlds both at Riverdale and at Yale. Steve was interested in sports and was a fine football player. I was interested in the arts, politics, and world affairs. But when we were both residents of Branford College during our last 3 years at Yale we often sat at the same dinner table and enjoyed each other’s company.

“After graduation Steve made his way up to being the head of the Lane Bryant clothing chain. He also had a large loft in Chelsea which he consulted me about renovating. (I was perfect for that job because by then I had finished architecture school and had been NYC’s Deputy Commissioner of Housing in charge of housing rehabilitation and neighborhood preservation.) We were both happily surprised at our mutual interest in, and knowledge of, the business aspects of this real estate venture.

“This job never materialized. Instead we began having lunch or dinner every few months. Our discussions proved to be very useful when I was preparing the plan to bring the 2012 Olympics to NYC. I knew nothing about sports and Steve knew exactly what I needed to know.

“For a while he lived in a wooden house on East 92nd Street, then in an apartment building on Central Park West where he invited our Riverdale Class for a reunion.

“When Steve contracted Parkinson’s Disease we still got together but conversation was more difficult. A couple of years ago we stopped getting together. I was sad, but not surprised when I learned of his death. He is one of those surprising friends I have had, who had little in common with me, but connected in a very personal and human way. I shall miss him.”

A funeral was held at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Queens on February 11, 2020, and a memorial service is to be scheduled. In lieu of flowers the family asked that donations be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation to support the fight against Parkinson’s Disease.


R. G. Oliver