QUINCY – Like many newly retired couples, Frank and Linda Santoro aspire to create a different way of life that includes shared adventures and personal dreams.
Five years ago, Linda went on a trip to California with friends because Frank didn’t want to. While she’s away, Frank learns that Plimpton has a beautiful four-story house on nearly 4 acres with enough room for a small barn and a horse – just what he’s always wanted .
“He’s worked hard his whole life, and he’s entitled to that dream,” Linda said.
So the couple, who have been together since their teens, sold their Quincy home for 38 years. They left and went to the country, living next to acres of cranberry swamps, with neighbors all young and working.
“I’m in heaven, riding a horse in the swamp,” Frank said. “I ride horses every day, and there’s even a place to dump manure.”
As Linda says now, “It wasn’t my dream, but I ended up coming back to the city. I’m glad he got the opportunity and I got through.”
grow together and apart
They appear to be a docile couple, both 72 years old, who know each other very well and support each other’s interests.
Frank Santoro and Linda Levitt met in 10th grade at North Quincy High School’s Spaghetti Dinner Dance. Both were with friends; the boys sent the girls home.
“We were drawn to each other, and that was about it,” Linda said.
They started dating in high school, and after graduating in 1967, Frank went to Framingham State College and Linda went to Chandler School for Girls in Boston. They married in 1971 in Chateau de Ville in Framingham and raised two children: daughter Lori Scott owns a yoga studio in Wollaston, and son Michael from Easton is a teacher at Quincy Atlantic High School.
They have four grandchildren aged 4, 6, 22 and 24.
Frank was a teacher and principal at Boston, Brookline and Quincy schools for 42 years, and retired from his position as Quincy High School principal in 2013.
Linda’s career progressed as a “Secretary by Train and Tailor by Trade”. She served as Rhodes & Taylor’s Rehabilitation Leader in Braintree, produced all costumes for Quincy School plays, fundraisers and grant applications for Quincy Schools, and volunteered for DOVE, a nonprofit dedicated to ending domestic violence. .
Frank’s love for horses began at the age of 8. He would come home from Montclair School and watch “Spin and Marty”, part of the Mickey Mouse Club, on TV.In the series, wealthy orphan Marty Markham attends a summer camp on a farm and becomes best friends with Spin Evans.
“I liked it so much, it was the beginning of my love for horses,” he said. “I’ve always been passionate about owning a horse.”
After retiring, he headed to the Blazing Saddles Equestrian Center in Randolph. He told owner Amy Mullen that if she could teach him all about horses, he would help. For two years, he showed up at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday to feed and water the horses and clean the stables.
“In the back of my mind, I was looking for a community where I could raise horses,” he said.
After his son and daughter-in-law, a real estate agent, found the house for sale in Plimpton, they both persuaded Linda to agree to move. Mullen helped him buy Maggie, a painted draft horse, “to make dreams come true.”
In October 2015, they took action. Frank traded his 2005 Thunderbird for a truck to carry manure and hay. His son and friend Kevin Murphy helped build a two-speed barn. Neighbor Jeff Randall owns 10 horses and a 150-acre cranberry swamp, as well as three pastures at his disposal. In return, Frank helps pick cranberries.
For several years, Linda has enjoyed the change. She immersed herself in shopping, decorating their spacious home and entertaining the family.
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“Interior design is one of my hobbies,” she said. They threw a huge party of 80 people to celebrate their youngest grandson Jesse’s first birthday with pony rides and denim. There was also a “cousin party” with 100 people from Frank’s extended family.
Both were happy as they chased his dream.
“It’s probably something I regret not doing,” he said. “I’m glad I had this experience.”
After nearly three years, Linda wanted to go home. Frank’s parents Betty and Charlie Santoro, 97 and 91, also needed more help in North Quincy.
In 2018, they moved back to President City and rented an apartment in Marina Bay. They started looking for a house in their old Beechwood Knoll neighborhood and soon found a house across the swamp from their former home.
They added a deck, perfect for egret viewing, and a sun porch that serves as Frank’s painting studio – he paints acrylic landscapes and portraits – and Linda’s jewelry studio.
Linda suggested they join the Quincy Arts Society, and the late Kelly Coble convinced them to help her manage it. Frank is now the Vice President; Linda is the Treasurer.
Frank, who visits Blazing Saddles but has stopped riding, serves on school committees, the Quincy College Board of Trustees, the Quincy Asian Resource Council and other community committees.
When asked how they maintain diversity and harmony in their lives, both said: “We’ve been together for a long time. We have the same family values, the same work ethic. We support whatever the other wants to do. … Humor is important.”
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Contact Sue Scheible at [email protected]