Who was Jack Karp? Behind the Karp Fund for the Study of Ancient Philosophy at Cornell

Since 2004, Cornell’s Sage School of Philosophy has been the beneficiary of the Karp Fund for the study of ancient philosophy, endowed by Jack Karp ‘58 to honor his parents for their unwavering support of his education.  The endowment has funded visiting scholars, research and student language study.  When he established the fund, Karp said, “If possible, I would like it named the Joseph and Eva Karp Fund in Ancient Philosophy in memory of my mother and father. They were good enough to (among many other things) fund my education and it would make me feel good that this should be one remembrance of them.”

Karp was not only one of Sage School’s most ardent supporters, but also a shining example of a well-rounded alumnus of Cornell’s College of Arts & Sciences.  After graduating from Cornell, Karp attended Harvard Law and was planning on a legal career.  However, after his brother passed away unexpectedly, Karp instead headed home to the Midwest to take on the leadership of the Karp family business, the Karp Bakery Supply Company, in 1962.  He used his love of the baking industry and his intellectual curiosity and creativity to grow and diversify the business, and in 1997 sold it to a Dutch company.  This allowed him to pursue different interests in his later years – including teaching Pilates to Parkinson patients, and completing a master’s degree in Spanish literature.

Karp and his wife Betsy traveled widely, but always kept in close touch with family, including grandchildren. He is remembered fondly by friends, family and business associates for his unassuming ways, his intellect and his ongoing support for education, as well as his many volunteer and charitable activities. Karp passed away in 2016 at the age of 80.

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