Jo S. Kaplan, a former city social worker who for two decades coordinated the annual May festival held at Bedford Elementary School in Pikesville, died of pneumonia Monday at Northwest Hospital. She was 85.
The daughter of Irving Frankel, a businessman, and Lillian Rothkopf Frankel, a homemaker, Jo Sande Frankel was born in Chicago and spent her early years in Rochester, N.Y., before moving with her family in 1945 to a home on Winterbourne Road near Leakin Park.
After graduating from Forest Park High School, she earned a degree in social work from the University of Maryland School of Social Work in 1952.
Mrs. Kaplan worked for the Baltimore Department of Social Work from 1952 until 1960, when she left to raise her children.
Mrs. Kaplan and her family lived across the street from Bedford Elementary in Pikesville, where beginning in the early 1960s and continuing into the 1970s, she coordinated the annual May festival held at the school.
"This event was attended by hundreds of people from all over Baltimore County," said a son, Steven Jon Kaplan of Kearny, N.J.
"There was a balloon ascension in which all of the students in the school would sell tickets to as many people as they knew for 50 cents apiece," her son said. "The money would be used for school programs."
Tickets were attached to the balloons which were all released simultaneously with the purchaser's name. They also contained instructions to finders who were asked to call the school and report where the balloon was found.
"In some years, a balloon would travel as far as Ohio or Indiana, and once a balloon made it all the way to Chicago," her son said.
The festival also featured games and contests, with the most coveted prize being a "plush purple cow with a bobbing head," her son said.
Mrs. Kaplan was active in local Democratic politics and the League of Women Voters, and did campaign work for Paula C. Hollinger, the Maryland delegate and state senator, in the 1970s.
Mrs. Kaplan enjoyed attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the Johns Hopkins University. She also enjoyed collecting jewelry and travel.
She was a member of Temple Emanuel of Baltimore.
Funeral services were held Wednesday at Sol Levinson & Bros. in Pikesville.
In addition to her son, Mrs. Kaplan is survived by her husband of 56 years, Irving I. Kaplan, a retired electrical engineer; another son, Daniel L. Kaplan of Tallahassee, Fla.; a daughter, Beth Kaplan of San Francisco; and four grandchildren.