July 26, 1941, began as just another day in England during the darkest hours of the Second World War. However, on that day, a little girl was born in the small town of Thatchum, England, and with her arrival, a bit more light came into the world, a light that would shine brightly for nearly eight decades and make life better for countless people who were fortunate enough to know and love her.
Josephine Daly began her life as a young girl in a small English village; attending school, playing sports (field hockey, rounders, netball aka basketball, and track and field), writing poetry, taking walks with her sister through the countryside and playing cards with her big family at home in the evenings, and dreaming of the future. From a young age, Josephine knew she wanted a life of adventure, and to have a career that would enable her to have such a life while also helping others. When she was about fifteen years old, she went to see a movie at her local theater starring Grace Kelly and set in the French Riviera. Upon seeing those beautiful beaches in the South of France, Josephine’s imagination fired up, and she became even more determined to get out into the world and explore it to the fullest.
At the age of eighteen, Josephine took the first step toward making her dreams come true by moving to London and enrolling in nursing school. For the next few years she studied hard, learned how to be a nurse, and also had her share of adventures (including sneaking out of the dorm late at night to attend parties, and being asked out by a prince, whom she turned down because she found him boring).
A few years later, Josephine and her friends decided it was time for a new adventure, so they took out a map, stabbed their fingers on it together, and landed on the island of Bermuda in the middle of the Atlantic. As it turned out, it was a great choice, as Bermuda was a British colony looking for nurses which also had wonderful weather. Josephine moved to Bermuda, where she worked for a year and met her future husband, Rudolph Kaplan, at a party (he was sitting by the door with his legs stuck out, and she tripped over his feet once she walked in). So began a fifty-four year love story, including fifty years of marriage and a daughter.
Josephine left Bermuda and spent several years living in New York City, a place she loved, working as a nurse at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. After marrying Rudolph, they settled in Wallingford, Connecticut, where they raised their daughter. Josephine worked at Cheshire Convalescent Center in Connecticut for twenty-seven years, retiring in 2000 as Assistant Director of Nursing. That year, Josephine and Rudolph moved to Naples, Florida, where they lived for eighteen years, enjoying the sunshine and making many wonderful new friends.
After forty years of living in the U.S., Josephine proudly became an American citizen. However, she retained some of her British accent as well as her love of tea and mystery novels her entire life. One of her favorite TV shows was The Crown, which she watched with her daughter while reminiscing about the history she remembered clearly from her own English childhood.
Throughout her life, Josephine kept her adventurous spirit alive. She and her family traveled widely, whether it was to visit the Daly clan in England, introduce her husband and seven-year-old daughter to Paris, spend a weekend with family in Massachusetts, explore Atlanta, San Diego, and other US cities with friends, see Carmel and Monterrey in California, gamble in Las Vegas while her husband took photography classes, or take a cruise with her husband or adult daughter to the Caribbean or Mexico. The Kaplan family also had a timeshare in Bermuda where they visited each summer for decades during the week of Josephine’s birthday, which she looked forward to eagerly every year.
Josephine was many things: a trailblazing young women, an outstanding nurse, a loving wife, a caring sister and friend, and a devoted mom. She raised her daughter Melissa to believe in her dreams and pursue adventures without fear, or at least without letting fear hold her back. When Melissa moved overseas for several years and Josephine lamented to her husband how far away their daughter’s adventures had taken her, he laughed and responded, “Well, where do you think she gets it from?” He was right.
For the last few years of her life, Josephine’s strength and resilience were sorely tested by disease and disability, but she never gave up her fight. She often remarked that in her mind, she felt no differently in her seventies than she had as a girl in her twenties. Through the many stories she told her daughter, and through the recollections of all who were lucky enough to know her, that stubborn, feisty, adventurous dreamer of a girl will always live on, as will the extraordinary women she became. She will be deeply missed by all the many people who knew and loved her, whether for a few years or for a lifetime, but her light will live on forever.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
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