New Rep dedicates our 2015-2016 season in memory of Martha (Marty) Karoff and her longstanding devotion to New Rep and the art of theatre. Marty Karoff, founding board chair of New Rep, spent 42 wonderful years in her beloved West Newton home where she held the first-ever fundraiser for New Rep with a scene from A.R. Gurney’s The Dining Room staged around her dining room table. In her role as “unofficial mayor” of West Newton Hill, she brought together two generations of neighbors who shared her love of community and of great theatre. In New Rep’s first decade Marty and her husband Peter were instrumental in forming New Rep’s first Board of Directors. Their drive to involve community members in the company gave New Rep a loyal base of patrons and supporters that have sustained the theatre during its three decades of life.
“Marty’s devotion to the idea of New Rep at its very beginning carried through its entire 31 years. I remember her enthusiasm and profound joy at the gala we celebrated together in 2014. Her spirit of conviction for the power of theatre and community stands with us and provides us with meaningful direction in everything we undertake.” – Jim Petosa
From The Boston Globe:
Martha Conant Karoff died peacefully and with grace at her home in Santa Barbara, CA, on September 3, 2015, at the age of 79. Martha was supported during a period of declining health by the love of her family – seventeen strong – and her many, many friends in Santa Barbara, in West Newton and Boston, MA, and beyond. Martha was born in Keene, New Hampshire to Kenneth G. Conant and Mary Ellen Hartnett Conant. Martha graduated with honors from Keene High School and attended Brandeis University (’58), where she met and married her husband of 58 years, Peter Karoff, who survives her. Martha was the first woman president of the Neighborhood Club in West Newton, and the founding board chair of New Repertory Theatre in Watertown MA. In 2014, to celebrate its 30th anniversary, New Rep established the Karoff Award for Lifelong Leadership, with Martha as its first recipient. Martha was known as the “unofficial Mayor” of West Newton Hill, and served on the board of the All Newton Music School, and the New Arts Center. In Santa Barbara, Martha was a member of the CAMA Woman’s Board and Social Venture Partners. She participated over many years in several spirited book and bridge clubs on both the East and West coasts. For Martha, family was everything, and gatherings over Christmas and Thanksgiving – often with 30 + at the table – along with years of glorious summers on Martha’s Vineyard and Chappaquiddick, made for great joy and enduring memories. Martha had a remarkable authenticity as a person who cared, listened to others, and was an empathetic and gifted friend, leader and mentor. She will be deeply missed by Peter, her daughters Deborah Ann Karoff of Santa Barbara, CA, Lorinda Karoff of Brooklyn, NY, Rebecca Karoff of Madison, WI, and son Thomas Michael Karoff of Armonk, NY, and their devoted spouses, Anna DiStefano, Jeffrey Younger, Brad Wolbert, and Pamela Furtsch. Martha was in awe of the accomplishments of her children, and immensely proud of her seven beloved grandchildren ranging in age from 7 to 23 – Lauren, Sarah, and Devon, Sophie and Jacob, and Emma and Kaeli. Martha also leaves behind her brother- and sister-in-law, Richard M. Karoff and Sandra Manzella, along with nephews and their wives and children, and a sister, Betsy Conant Drouin and brother-in-law Raymond Drouin, and their children. She dearly loved her family, her home, her community, art, music, wooden jigsaw puzzles, and knitting gorgeous sweaters. Most of all she loved her life with her soul mate of 58 years, Peter. A celebration of Martha’s life will be held on October 17, 2015, in Santa Barbara, and on November 21 in West Newton.
To share a memory or leave an online condolence, please visit www.wrhsb.com.