Dear Hexagon Friends,

On April 22, 2020, our collective Hexagon hearts were shattered by the news that Joe Kaplan lost his battle with COVID-19.

Joe speaks to the Hexagon 2017 audienceJoe had been a presence in the Hexagon family since 1993, when he began writing for our annual revue.   His talented wife, Ellen, first brought her exuberant presence to our annual shows in 1992, and continued through 1998.  They took a hiatus to raise and support their three beautiful and talented daughters, and returned in 2007 to resume their love of theater. While Ellen sang, danced and acted, Joe continued to write for our shows; and took on many other roles, such as Materials Coordinator from 2012-2017 and then as the “Assistant Director for Creative Materials,” in 2018 through this year. He chaired the Membership /Social Committee in 2012 and joined the Hexagon Board of Directors in 2014 as the Beneficiary VP.  More importantly, in 2009 he joined the cast and never looked back – he was a natural!  And in 2015, he assumed the mantle of President, which continued to this year.

Joe was also active on and offstage with The British Players, where he and Ellen were beloved for their many contributions to the annual Music Halls and Pantos.

What is more impressive are Joe’s achievements in his 40-year legal career.

Remembering Joe Kaplan

In August 1986, Joe started his professional association with Ed Passman, joining the former firm of Passman and Broida and left the firm in 1989 to start his own law practice. In 1990, Joe and Ed Passman founded the firm of Passman & Kaplan, P.C. as Founding Principals. Since then, Joe has tirelessly fought for employees and unions, including winning a number of precedent-setting victories for clients. He has also mentored a generation of federal employment lawyers, with the rolls of current and former P&K attorneys who Joe taught, who are now making a mark in legal practice nationwide.

If that isn’t enough, in 2009, Joe was a faculty member in American University’s Key Executive Leadership Programs, instilling hundreds of federal executives with an understanding of constitutional law, and also taught courses in the Department of Public Administration and Policy, and the Washington College of Law.

Joe was a widely published author in the field of federal employment law, as the principal author of all three editions of Passman & Kaplan’s Federal Employees Legal Survival Guide, as well as co-author of Litigating Federal Sector Employment and Labor Disputes: A Practitioner’s Handbook, and author of many other publications.

Joe was a highly sought-after lecturer on federal employment law issues, including frequent speaking engagements at numerous conferences. As a result of his extraordinary contributions to Labor and Employment law, Joe has been named as one of Washington, DC’s Top Lawyers by Washingtonian Magazine since 2013 and named a Washington DC Super Lawyer every year since 2008.

Joe in HexagonJoe loved cooking, New England Pizza, Abraham Lincoln, Civil War paraphernalia, and spoiling his grandchildren, who meant the world to him.

Much loved husband, father, brother and grandfather, Joe had the devoted support of Ellen, his wife and best friend of almost 45 years, his three children Liza (Justin), Ashley (Danny), and Amanda (David), two grandchildren, Mallory and Gavin, his entire Hexagon family, and many, many additional friends.

During his month-long battle with the virus, despite the recent burdens imposed by social distancing, Ellen and Joe felt the love and support communicated by family and friends through texts, e-mail, phone calls, video messages, and gifts left at their front door. Those thoughtful gestures made a big difference.

Joe, we will miss your extraordinary energy and endless gift of self to your wonderful family, to Hexagon and to the world.  Your contributions will be felt long into the future by all whose lives you’ve touched.  We’ll miss your smile, your brilliant and funny lyrics, and your continuous and selfless leadership.  With your passing, we have some big shoes to fill, and we will in honor of your memory.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family suggests making a donation to Hexagon “In Memory of Joe Kaplan.” Simply click on the Donate to Hexagon button at the top of this page or mail a check to Hexagon Inc. c/o Kathy Meyer Jeffers, 5614 Connecticut Avenue N.W. PMB 294, Washington, DC 20015-2604. Hexagon is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization. 

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Remembering Joe Kaplan

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29 entries.
Darrell wrote on April 23, 2020 at 5:39 pm
In addition to being a talented performer, Joe was such a rock and fountain of strength for Hexagon. He often kept things together by his sheer force of will. He loved Hexagon, and was a great president. More than that, he was a good friend. I will really miss him. Love to Ellen, Liza, Ashley and Amanda.
Sheila Amon wrote on April 23, 2020 at 5:31 pm
I am so sorry for your loss! I wish I was there to give you and your family some comfort! May he RIP! Love you!
Diana Menga wrote on April 23, 2020 at 5:16 pm
My deepest condolences to the family of Joe Kaplan, my are all in my prayers..
John Allnutt wrote on April 23, 2020 at 5:14 pm
Always a steady hand in Hexagon: materials coordinator, cast member and Hexagon president for 6 years. We miss your humor, leadership and legal council more than many audience members will ever know. Thoughts and prayers for Ellen, Liza, Ashley, Amanda and the rest of your extended family. God bless Joe. John Allnutt
Eileen Kent wrote on April 23, 2020 at 5:10 pm
My heart and love go out to Ellen and her family during this time. Joe was a wonderful human being and a great performer. Hexagon and The British Players will sorely miss this versatile team member. Godspeed Joe!
Debbie Romano wrote on April 23, 2020 at 5:07 pm
I will never forget your presence with Ellen during all of the Upbeat shows and Gala’s. You were so helpful, wonderful and encouraging. You will be missed. My heart and love goes out to Ellen, your girls and their families♥️♥️
Ellen Krakow Simpson wrote on April 23, 2020 at 5:03 pm
Wishing the family strength during this very difficult time. Sending much love.
Brena wrote on April 23, 2020 at 3:55 pm
I’ve known Joe since my first show at the navy yard in 2009. It is where our fist bump and spin was born. He was so much like a dad guy for so many of us younger folks. He’s always been part of the welcoming crew, filling the air with laughter, showing the newbies the ropes. And always willing to have a great drink and dance the the night away in celebration of anything! The hexa-stage won’t be the same. But I know when I rejoin it, I’ll be doing my best to honor you Joe.
Lizzie Griffett wrote on April 23, 2020 at 3:25 pm
I am deeply saddened to hear that dear Joe is gone. My heart goes out to Ellen, Liza, Ashley and Amanda and the rest of the family. Sending hugs to all and keeping you all in my thoughts.