Kay Lokoff, 81, of Philadelphia, who established a foundation to support child care and early child education in honor of her late daughter, a dedicated preschool teacher, died of respiratory failure Thursday, Dec. 29, while vacationing with her family in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Mrs. Lokoff and her husband, Fred, founded the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation in 1987, a year after their 25-year-old daughter died in an automobile accident.
Since starting with a $25,000 donation used to build a classroom and teacher's lounge at a day-care center in Philadelphia's Overbrook section, the foundation now provides grants to nonprofit, nonsectarian child-care centers in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties, gives $500 awards annually to 50 teachers nationwide, and supports students studying early care and education.
As of 2016, the King of Prussia-based organization had raised more than $10 million to support its causes since its establishment.
In an interview with the Inquirer in 1992, Mrs. Lokoff said she was initially disappointed that her daughter chose to go into child care instead of a better-paying teaching job after graduating from Fairleigh Dickenson University.
Working at a center in St. Davids, Terri Lokoff soon became well-known to the children, their parents, and her colleagues for her dedication to her young charges.
"We got letters from parents who wrote very movingly about Terri's role in their children's lives," Mrs. Lokoff said. "That helped us know what direction we should move in."
"My mother took a tragedy and turned it into something that benefited so many children," said Mrs. Lokoff's son Jamie.
Born to Louis and Dorothy Wolf in 1936, Mrs. Lokoff grew up in West Philadelphia.
She attended Pennsylvania State University before marrying Fred Lokoff, later to become founder of Bryn Mawr Stereo, in 1956.
Besides her husband and son, Mrs. Lokoff is survived by sons Steven and Robert, a brother, and seven grandchildren.
A memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2, at Joseph Levine & Sons, 4737 Street Road, Trevose. Shivah will be observed at the residence of Jamie and Jodi Lokoff.