*Friends and Family are invited to attend a graveside service for Linda on Thursday, May 18, 2023 at 11:00 AM in Cutter Cemetery Extension, Harkness Road, Jaffrey, NH 03452.*
Linda Ann Santoro, 63, passed away on December 28, 2022 after a long and valiant battle with cancer, with her family and friends by her side.
Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, Linda’s family roots trace back to Maine and the American Revolution, as well as to the more recent Swedish and Italian immigrants who came to New England after World War I. The fact that her birthday, February 12 (1959) was the same day as President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was a source of great joy for Linda. She loved her community and her country. As a member of the Mary Varnum Platts Peterborough Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, she was active in the DAR’s annual recognition of students from Jaffrey, Rindge and Temple on the occasion of their learning the Pledge of Allegiance and the history and tradition of our flag.
Among Linda’s earliest memories are of whole families coming to pick vegetables in her grandfather’s enormous garden. Her grandfather, Reverend Bernardo Santoro, founded and built the first Pentecostal Church in Worcester with a congregation of over 200 members. He turned his 14-acre homestead into one large vegetable garden for those in need. Congregants and neighbors would come after church to bring food home to their families and to give to others in need in their own neighborhoods. It was this spirit of caring and generosity that was a hallmark of Linda’s life.
Her parents, Shirley Carlson and Bernard Santoro, met on a blind date and lived much of their married life in Holden, Massachusetts. When her father retired, he sought an old house with enough acreage and water so he could have gardens. They found the perfect spot in Jaffrey on Gilmore Pond Road with a stream that ran through the property and enough acreage for a tractor. Once they were settled, Linda found a home in Rindge so she would be nearby to spend time with them and care for them. Linda will join her parents at the Cutter Extension Cemetery in the heart of Jaffrey Center.
Linda attended Holden Elementary and graduated from Wachusett Regional High School in 1977. She loved school and was curious about everything. What she didn’t know, or wanted to know more about, she learned. Throughout her life, Linda was known as a person who could talk to anyone knowledgeably and enthusiastically about almost any subject. Above all, and throughout her life, despite circumstances, Linda possessed a bone-deep cheerfulness and loving-kindness to everyone. Her classmates said of her: “Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting”.
While she was still in high school, Linda worked at RH White Department Store in its payroll office. She loved the experience of working in an office, making friends, and getting the job done. After graduation, she studied for her pilot’s license and learned to fly at Worcester Airport. While studying for her pilot’s license, she also worked as receptionist for CK Smith in Worcester, at the time the largest oil supply and delivery business in the northeast. Her natural ability to recognize voices on the phone was an asset for the company during the 1970’s oil crisis when a friendly and familiar greeting helped to diffuse customers’ frustrations.
With the increase in business computerization, Linda joined the Information Technology Department at Arrow Automotive Industries in Framingham, MA. She quickly became a member of the company’s top customer team and was selected to travel with her team for a weekend tour of England’s historic country homes. She recalled that it was like living at Downton Abby for a weekend. When their flight home was canceled, Arrow Automotive put Linda and her colleagues on the first available return flight which turned out to be the Concord. She flew back to Boston at MACH 2 in 3 ½ hours.
Following what turned out to be her first stint at Arrow Automotive, Linda joined AAA in Worcester to learn the travel business. She was recruited to return to Arrow Automotive to join its Corporate Credit department. One of her fondest memories during those days at Arrow were the trips to Nashville with senior staff where she met singer-songwriter Toni Wine, her boss’ sister. Toni, female lead in The Archie’s who wrote “Groovey Kind of Love”, the #1 song of the year in 1988, also sang “Always on My Mind” with Willie Nelson. On one of Linda’s trips there, Toni took her to see the Highwaymen in concert where Linda met performers Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson whose intense gaze and deep blue eyes made a lasting impression. After Arrow Automotive closed, Linda traveled to Maine where her family had a summer home and worked at Farley and Son Landscaping and Garden Supply.
When Linda moved to Rindge she adopted two rescue cats, Oliver and “Toula”, meaning “light” in Greek. She joined the finance department at Belletete’s and began volunteering with many area organizations. One of those organizations was a local group intent on rebuilding and reopening a 1922 movie house, The Park Theatre, in the heart of Jaffrey’s downtown. While remaining on Belletete’s staff, Linda became the Theatre’s first employee in 2008. Working with a local IT consultancy, Steve Cooke of SBC Consultants, Linda set up and maintained the project’s electronic fund-raising and records system, among her many other activities to support the project. Her work is credited with being a significant part of the project’s success, 12 years and over $6 million dollars later, when the rebuilt Theatre opened its doors in 2020. This is but one example of Linda’s many gifts to her community and by which she will be remembered. She will be greatly missed by her family and friends.
Linda survived by her sister, Joann Santoro Bartlett and her husband James W. Bartlett who reside in Rutland, MA with their children Brian James and Reagan Elizabeth; her brother David Henry Santoro and his wife Margo Wintersgill Santoro of Stoddard, NH; her uncle and aunt, Kurt and Marie Carlson of Brewster, MA; her cousin Robert H. Carlson and wife Marilene and many more beloved cousins.
A celebration of life will be held at The Cournoyer Funeral Home and Cremation Center, 33 River Street, Jaffrey, NH 03452 on Friday, January 6, 2023, with calling hours from 11 am followed by her Funeral Service at 12 noon.
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Jack Byrne Center for Palliative and Hospice Care, 154 Hitchcock Loop Road, Lebanon, NH 03766.