In retirement, the Quincy couple find a dream horse, art and adventures

QUINCY — Like many newly retired couples, Frank and Linda Santoro were eager to create a different lifestyle that included shared adventures and individual dreams.

Five years ago, Linda took a trip to California with a friend because Frank didn’t want to go. While he was away, Frank discovered a beautiful four-storey house in Plympton with almost 4 acres and enough space for a small barn and a horse – just what he had always wanted.

“He worked really hard his whole life and he had every right to live that dream,” Linda said.

Thus, the couple, who have been together since adolescence, sold the house in Quincy where they had lived for 38 years. They went to live in the countryside, next to acres of cranberry bogs, with neighbors who were all younger and still working.

“I was in heaven, walking through the bogs with my horse,” Frank said. “I rode my horse every day and even had a place to dump the manure.”

As Linda says now, “It wasn’t my dream, but I ended up coming back to town. I’m glad he got that chance and I survived.”

Frank and Linda Santoro share memories of their lifelong relationship.

Grow together and separately

They seem a flexible couple, both 72 years old, who know each other well and support each other’s interests.

Frank Santoro and Linda Leavitt met in 10th grade at a spaghetti supper dance at North Quincy High School. Both were with friends; the boys walked the girls home.

“We were attracted to each other and that was about it,” Linda said.

Quincy School Committee member Frank Santoro paints portraits and landscapes in acrylic.

They dated until high school and after graduating in 1967 Frank went to Framingham State College, Linda to the Chandler School for Women in Boston. They married in 1971 at Framingham Town Castle and raised two children: daughter Lori Scott owns a yoga studio in Wollaston and son Michael, from Easton, is a teacher at Atlantic Middle School in Quincy.

They have four grandsons aged 4, 6, 22 and 24.

Linda Santoro loves making jewelry.  His work is exhibited at the Quincy Art Association.

Frank enjoyed a 42-year career as a teacher and principal at schools in Boston, Brookline and Quincy, retiring as principal of Quincy High School in 2013.

Linda developed her career as a “training secretary and trade seamstress”. She worked as an alterations manager for Lord and Taylor in Braintree, made all the costumes for Quincy School plays, did fundraising and grant applications for Quincy Schools, and wore volunteered and worked for DOVE, a non-profit organization committed to ending domestic violence.

Linda Santoro loves making jewelry.  His work is exhibited at the Quincy Art Association.

A sense of the horse

Frank’s love for horses started when he was 8 years old. He was coming home from Montclair School to watch “Spin and Marty”, part of the Mickey Mouse Club, on television.In the series, Marty Markham, a wealthy orphan, attends summer camp on a ranch and becomes best friends with Spin Evans.

“I loved him so much and that was the start of my love for horses,” he said. “I’ve always had this passion for having a horse.”

Once retired, he headed to Blazing Saddles Equestrian Center in Randolph. He told owner Amy Mullen he would help if she taught him all about horses. For two years, he showed up at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday to feed and water the horses and clean the boxes.

“Deep down, I was looking for a community where I could have a horse,” he said.

Frank and Linda Santoro on the back patio of their Beechwood Knoll home, where they enjoy views of marshes, egrets and other birds.

After her son and daughter-in-law, an estate agent, scouted the house for sale in Plympton, they all persuaded Linda to agree to the move. Mullen helped him buy Maggie, a painted workhorse, “fulfilling a dream”.

In October 2015, they took the plunge. Frank traded in his 2005 Thunderbird for a truck to haul manure and hay. His son and friend Kevin Murphy helped build a two-stall barn. Neighbor Jeff Randall had 10 horses and 150 acres of cranberry bogs with three pastures he could use. In return, Frank helped pick cranberries.

For a few years, Linda 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 passions,” she said. They threw a big party with 80 people to celebrate their youngest grandson Jesse’s first birthday with pony rides and cowboy outfits. There was also a “cousin party” with 100 people from Frank’s extended family.

Both are happy to have pursued his dream when they did.

“It probably would have been something I would have regretted not doing,” he said. “I am happy to have had this experience.”

Go home

After almost 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 the City of Presidents and rented an apartment in Marina Bay. They began looking for a home in their old neighborhood of Beechwood Knoll and soon found one just across the swamp from their old home.

They added a terrace, perfect for watching the egrets, and a veranda to serve as both Frank’s painting studio – he does landscapes and portraits in acrylics – and Linda’s jewelry studio.

The Santoros chose a home in their old neighborhood of Beechwood Knoll near family and friends, close to the house where they lived for 38 years and raised two children.

Linda suggested they join the Quincy Art Association, where the late Kelly Cobble persuaded them to help run it. Frank is now Vice President; Linda is treasurer.

Frank, who visits Blazing Saddles but has stopped riding, serves on the school board, the Quincy College board, the Quincy Asian Resources board, and other community boards.

When asked how they keep a varied and harmonious life, both replied: “We have been together for a long time. We have the same family values, the same work ethic. We support whatever the other wants to do. .. And a sense of humor is important.”

Bella, the Santoro family dog.

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Contact Sue Scheible at sscheible@patriotledger.com

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