In Remembrance

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Dear Friends,

In memory of our Trustee Emeritus, Mary Kaplan, we invite you to share remembrances below.

Mary Ellen Kaplan
January 3, 1936 – November 18, 2021


Mary Ellen Kaplan died on Thursday, 18 November. A lifelong resident of New York City, she was active in and a supporter of efforts for literature, unique literary journals and, particularly, poetry. She was a founder and major supporter of Poet’s House at 10 River Terrace, NYC and housing for poets and writers.

Mary was a great friend to arts and artists in New York and around the world. She was a trustee and contributor to the Saint Gardens Memorial in Cornish, NH for nearly thirty years and a long-standing supporter of NYC’s Ensemble Studio Theatre. She was a strong protector of the environement and supporter of artists and writers.  

She was a trustee of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, founded by her father Jacob M. Kaplan. She is survived by many friends, and by her siblings, Elizabeth Fonseca and Joan K. Davidson. Her brother, architect Richard M. Kaplan, predeceased her, in 2016.


  1. All the artists at the Ensemble Studio Theatre (EST) are deeply saddened by the loss of Mary Kaplan who has been an extraordinary friend to our community. Our collective hearts go out to her family and to her colleagues at the J. M. Kaplan fund.

    EST would not be where it is today, a vibrant and holistic home for artists where new work is continually coming to life, without the generous support Mary provided through the Fund for many years. Mary understood and appreciated the importance of our mission and put her faith in us at critical point when our future was hanging in the balance.

    Mary cared deeply about the work we were doing and came to the theatre often to see the productions she worked to support. Even when she had to use a wheel chair in the later years, she would still show up. She loved experiencing the work, meeting the artists and sharing her always perceptive thoughts.

    There are numerous productions over the last twelve years that never would have happened without Mary’s help, including Hand To God which transferred from EST to Broadway. In 2015 EST was given a special Drama Desk Award for our unwavering commitment to producing new American plays, most of the productions cited had received J. M. Kaplan Fund support through Mary.

    We feel so fortunate to have had such a loyal and considerate friend. We will miss Mary showing up at EST, we will miss her extraordinary interest, her lively, continuously curious mind and her generous, caring spirit.

    William Carden
    Artistic Director
    Ensemble Studio Theatre

  2. Bob Jaffe on said:

    Time spent with Mary was always fascinating – full of wide-ranging conversation and marked by her infectious passion for any subject about which she engaged. She will be sorely missed.

  3. I have known Mary since I was a child almost 40 years ago. She was a close friend of my mother and we all kept in touch with her as much as possible before her sudden passing. During COVID when she was more or less homebound I would talk with her for hours at a time about my photography. She was always so interested in the story behind each photo and would keep asking more about them. I could feel a child like wonder from her every time I sent her a new series of photos I was working on.
    I will always remember her as she was until the end. She was a strong woman who never shied away from telling you exactly how she felt. She was always trying to help elevate others to their full potential. She would always ask how my mother and I were doing and how she could assist. She took the weight of the world upon her shoulders and was always solution oriented. She never let anything stand in her way. To me she was like a second mother and guardian angel. Her loss has left an immense chasm in our lives and is a loss for the world. I will never forget her and regret not having seen her one more time as she had mentioned.

  4. Vasi on said:

    Through these many years I may not have often said how much I care and love you. As we go along life’s way, so now I have to say my goodbye forever. My last words to you will be: Mary, you were such a gift to us all. Your kind heart was rare and precious, and I will treasure our memories. I hope now you are enjoying that special happiness you left behind for all of us.

    With Deepest Love, Vasi and family, Andrew, Sebastian, and Andreas

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