Susan Jo Kaplan, 77, Gold Medal Maccabiah Olympic Games Judo Champion, Westfield Rescue Squad member, and so very much more, died November 15, 2018.
The 6-foot-tall mother-of-four athlete won the gold medal in woman’s Judo at the Maccabiah Games in 1977 at the age of 37, representing the United States. She was the highest ranked women’s judo player in the world that year. Kaplan continued in the sport for 50 years and received her fourth degree black belt in 2007.
As an advocate for women’s sports and an early Feminist, she played a role in the start of sports clubs for girls in the 1970s in her home town of Westfield, NJ.
Kaplan graduated from Kean College, now Kean University, with a degree in Health and Physical Education. An accomplished equestrian, she served as the coach of the Jersey City State College team.
Always a dear friend and confidant to many around the country and the world, Kaplan more recently earned her Master’s degree in Theology from Drew University and helped many through their grieving process as a hospice counselor. She worked tirelessly during the aftermath of the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy counseling first responders. Kaplan was working toward her PhD when she passed away.
She played clarinet in the Westfield Community Band and served on the Rescue Squad for many years. She was a great cook who made magic from the simplest fresh ingredients, and enjoyed an occasional pack of Chuckles candies. She’d be there for you in a flash at 2 a.m. And she was gorgeous.
She is survived by her four children, The Hon. William D. Feingold, (Jacqueline), James Feingold (Nicole), Elizabeth Nirmul (Gowen), Katherine Feingold, MD (Toni) her 10 grandchildren as well as her brother, the Hon. Herbert Kaplan.
A private funeral will be held.