Linda’s son, Jonathan Plaut, sent the following to Village 14:
Obituary of Linda Plaut
(1940 – 2019) Linda Ruth Plaut died peacefully in her sleep at her Newton home on Sunday surrounded by friends and family. From 1974 until her very last day Linda was devoted to promoting cultural and civic life in the City of Newton. Linda started and developed hundreds of Newton’s cultural events, festivals, courses, children’s classes, musical programs, performances and parades and kept them thriving over the past 45 years. When people came to City Hall with an idea for cultural or community programming, Linda would support their ideas and harness their enthusiasm. From this inclusive attitude she helped found and run Newton’s Harvest Fair, SpringFest, the Festival of the Arts in Newton, the Newton Youth Players theatre program, Time for Partners classes, Fourth of July festivities, NewtonSERVES, the Newton Spelling Bee, Holiday Window Painting which annually decorated Newton storefronts, the Public Piano project, dance recitals, cultural fairs and festivals in City Hall honoring Indian, Russian and Chinese cultures, the Johnny Kelley Road Race on Newton’s Heartbreak Hill, and dozens of others. She started a folk concert series and a bluegrass festival, sponsored classical concerts and opera performances, and invited internationally known lecturers, artists and musicians to Newton.
Linda enriched life for hundreds of thousands of people and lived a remarkable life as an example for others. She believed in making the city a place where everyone could contribute and participate. She was always grateful to Mayor Teddy Mann, her first mentor and champion in Newton civic life, and subsequently had the privilege of working for the City under the stewardship of Mayors Thomas Concannon, David Cohen, Setti Warren and, most recently, the Honorable Ruth Ann Fuller. Linda was said to have known more people in Newton than anyone other than the sitting mayor. She would see multiple generations of children enjoy the exact same programming she had developed years earlier. In 1988 she was appointed the Director of the Newton Tricentennial Celebration and since that time she served as the Director of the Mayor’s Office for Cultural Affairs, the Director of the Newton Cultural Council, and the Director of the Newton Pride Committee. Linda also served as an Associate Commissioner for the Metropolitan District Commission in Boston. A Newton “Linda Plaut Day” was declared in both 1988 and 2017.
Linda grew up playing stickball on the streets of Brooklyn with her three brothers, attended Brooklyn College, and then studied at the University of Wisconsin and at the East West Center in Hawaii where she earned her Master’s Degree. She taught history at White Plains High School in New York. In 1965 she married Dr. Andrew Plaut and they spent two years living in Bangkok, Thailand where Andrew did medical research for the U.S. Army and where their daughter Julie was born. In Bangkok, Linda taught English as a second language. After living in Buffalo where their son Jonathan was born the family moved to Newton in 1973. Linda, knowing almost nobody in the City and with two small children, began to volunteer for the City’s Bicentennial parade committee and the fledgling cultural commission. Linda’s desire to bring people into the civic fold grew out of her own need to create a community for herself. She had full tables at her house for Thanksgiving meals, Passover Seders and holiday parties, and even threw a Patriots Super Bowl party last month. She was an extremely warm and friendly person who would bring those without close families into the hearth she created. She loved classical music, the Berkshires, live theatre, books on history and politics, cooking, blue and white pottery, and watching Rachel Maddow’s nightly incredulity. She is survived by her daughter Julie Plaut Mahoney, son Jonathan Plaut, son-in-law Tim Mahoney, grandchildren Jacob and Sarah, and her three devoted brothers Ed, Mike and Richard and their loving spouses and children. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in memory of Linda to the Anti-Defamation League (40 Court Street, Suite #12, Boston, MA 02108) or the John M. Barry Boys & Girls Club of Newton (675 Watertown Street, Newton, MA 02460).