Kaplan, Lawrence W.
Interview Date
January 4, 1999
Respondent Judge, born 1928.
[T1S1] Respondent provides background information: father, Edward Kaplan, dentist, born in McKeesport, PA; mother, Libby Wilner, born in Washington, PA; notes grandparents born in Eastern Europe; discusses parents meeting and marriage, 1926. Respondent provides detailed description of extended family members, their relationship to Respondent and their careers; gives name of one brother: David; died 1972, 6 years younger than Respondent; mentions father's death: 1957; mother's remarriage and her death: 1980; touches on mother's divorce after 25 years of marriage to second husband. Respondent reflects on younger years: involvement with Jewish Community in Uniontown, PA, mentions two synagogues, father member of both; describes mother's activities in various Jewish organizations.
[T1S2] Respondent reminisces on father's Army service: 1942-1945, family lived in Austin, Texas; explains rationing of food during war and Respondent's attendance at school in Austin: 9<sup>th</sup> and 10<sup>th</sup> grade; notes family's move to Uniontown, PA and completing high school; explains father's establishment of dental practice in Washington, PA after attending dental school; uncle from McKeesport covered it during father's Army service. Respondent describes senior year at Uniontown High School: involved with school newspaper; National Honor Society, basketball; provides description of Uniontown, PA: picturesque, historic and beautiful town; gives names of Jewish families, their businesses and professions. Respondent comments on confirmation in Austin, Texas, and Bar Mitzvah in Uniontown, PA; recounts membership in Young Judea and Masada, Zionist organizations; describes religious observance in family: parents attended Friday night services, lit candles, explains grandparents kosher, parents not.
[T2S3] Respondent explains acceptance at University of Pittsburgh and University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, chose University of Pennsylvania; notes interest in becoming physician; gives reasons for studying law; describes affiliation with B'nai B'rith Hillel and Pi Lambda Phi fraternity; always interested in Jewish affairs; received scholarship to attend Camp Brandeis, Winterdale, PA, organized by Shlomo Bardin; purpose to train Jewish young adults for leadership in communities: describes experience. Respondent explains formation of Pi Lambda Phi, Jewish fraternity; late 1800's: difficult for Jews to participate in Christian fraternities; reflects on acceptance to University of Pittsburgh School of Law, moved to Pittsburgh; describes places of residence, then fraternity house. Respondent describes law school: held on 14<sup>th</sup> floor of Cathedral of Learning, library on 15<sup>th</sup> floor, professors offices on 13<sup>th</sup> floor; reflects on help given to students by former Jewish law school graduates, remained involved; explains University of Pittsburgh law school rated higher today than earlier years. Respondent gives date of graduation: 1953, JD degree; describes entry into Army after graduation, legal branch, necessary to sign on for an additional year; mentions taking bar examinations in Pittsburgh, PA, and Washington, DC; entered as private, promoted to First Lieutenant in Office of Judge Advocate General.
[T2S4] blank.
[T3S5] Respondent continues discussion of Army service: describes efforts made to become qualified for work in Judge Advocate's office; explains transfer from Fort Meade, MD, to Aberdeen, MD; received commission during visit to Pittsburgh with wife. Respondent describes swearing in ceremony to attend Judge Advocate's School at University of Virginia in Charlottesville; notes wife joined him there. Respondent comments on meeting wife, Natalie Adler, during senior year in Law School; notes her attendance at Penn State University: Bachelor of Science degree in child development and Master of Science degree in primary education from University of Pittsburgh. Respondent gives dates of attendance at law school: 1950-1953; gives date of marriage: 11/23/52.
[T3S6] Respondent recounts move to first apartment on 5<sup>th</sup> Avenue; fives lengthy description of Adler family: gives names of parents, Samuel and Sadye Goldstein Adler, owners of pharmacy in Squirrel Hill; gives name of wife's brother, Dr. Lawrence Adler; provides names of Goldstein family members: 6 siblings; establishment of B'nai Brith Lodge in memory of Eli Goldstein. Respondent reverts to life in Charlottesville, VA while serving in Army after marriage: happy times; describes relationships with friends and social life until service ended: 1956; notes "three great years"; comments on legal work done in Washington, DC after finishing Army duty.
[T4S7] Respondent repeats information from previous tapes; describes life in Washington, DC; birth of 1<sup>st</sup> son, Thomas Ross; explains desire to find work in Pittsburgh, PA: difficult to get position in large law firms, notes very few Jewish lawyers being hired at that time. Respondent details first position as trust officer with Western Pennsylvania National Bank, formerly Halpern's Bank, gives various other name changes, now National City Bank; explains duties of trust officer: administer estates or trusts to assure they are properly invested. Respondent reflects on work with Allegheny County Bar Association: in section dealing with real property trusts; describes neurological problem that occurred: required surgery, successful.
[T4S8] blank.
[T5S9] Respondent gives names and birth dates of 3 children: Thomas Ross, Ellen Terry and Jon Adler, their early education and activities: schools and universities attended, their careers, notes two married, one single; gives names of 3 grandchildren.
[T5S10] Respondent describes children's religious education; comments on family religious observances and practices at home, notes importance of Friday night dinners and Passover seder's held in Respondent's home. Respondent recounts active involvement of children with Jewish community. Respondent comments on becoming president of Junior Congregation, Rodef Shalom Temple; served on board of directors 23 years; president of American Jewish Committee; believes in prophetic Judaism; 25 year association with National Conference of Christians and Jews; notes involvement with many other groups, always interested in social action. Respondent expresses feelings on becoming elected as Judge: "major event, molded life past 20 years"; regrets not having spent more time with family, making up for it.
[T6S11] Respondent discusses work with Pennsylvania Bar Institute: helps young lawyers develop themselves through education and older lawyers to maintain their level of confidence; explains circumstances and problems while working for law firm: decision to become judge. Respondent provides information on election procedure; served on family court until retirement: age 70; discusses procedure for becoming senior judge; reflects on life: "never felt cheated or fate was cruel, for every cloud, there is a silver lining."
[T6S12] Respondent describes campaign to become judge: how money was acquired through contributions; discusses retirement and another crossroad in life.
Allegheny County Bar Association; American Jewish Committee; Pennsylvania. Court of Common Pleas (Allegheny County). Family division; Judges; Kaplan, Natalie; Lawyers; Law; National Conference of Christians and Jews (U.S.); Pennsylvania Bar Institute; Synagogues; Rodef Shalom Congregation (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Uniontown (Pa.)
Birth Date
Uniontown, PA
Occupation (father)
Length (hours)
Stolzer, Shirley
Berger, Betty
Collateral Materials
Box 102 FF 46
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