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HOUGHTELING, Fiora Mariotti Of Newtonville, MA. Age 99 and 4 months. Died at home Tuesday, surrounded by loving family. She was predeceased by her husband, Jim Houghteling, and by her younger sister, Adèle Babcock, and a son, Peter. She is survived by a daughter, Nan Wicker, two daughters-in-law, Susan Waisbren and Elizabeth Fishel, sons Lawrence and Robert Houghteling, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, plus many nieces, nephews and cousins. Born in Rome to an Italian father and Vermonter mother, she grew up in Brookline and Newton Highlands. Her father was a violinist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Fiora graduated from Newton High School and was a student-athlete at Wellesley College, graduating in 1941. In a Washington internship program, she met James L. "Jim" Houghteling, Jr., whose family had come to the nation's capital from Chicago in the '30s to be a part of the New Deal. They were married in 1942, shortly before he left for the OSS in London. Soon after their first child, Larry, was born in 1944, Fiora was hired as an instructor in political science at Wellesley. Supporting her husband's career as a law student and diplomat, she became a full-time homemaker. She was active in the American community while he served at the Paris embassy from 1949 to 1952. During much of the next decade the family lived in Pittsburgh, and as her four children grew older she started teaching again. In the early 1960s, the family moved to Newtonville. She served as the acting directrice of the École Bilingue of Belmont for a year, helped establish the Satya Community School, and taught both there and at the Palfrey Street School. In the '70s she received an MS in public health and nutrition at Harvard, and worked for many years for the USDA extension service, where she helped create an early Boston Seafood Festival (recently reborn). After their retirements they traveled widely, and lived for some periods in England and Israel. Jim and Fiora had good friends all over the world, and Fiora maintained a correspondence with hundreds of people. A widow her last 30 years, she lived those years full-heartedly and for the most part vigorously: at age 77 she helped design and oversaw the construction of a new house in the yard next to her old one, into which she moved in 2000. She liked playing the piano, and did it well, and she played tennis, though she was very modest about her abilities. Above all, she loved to read aloud. She and her husband read to each other for many years, and during her last three years she and her eldest son read a great deal together; "The Brothers Karamazov" almost did them both in. She read aloud with others, and by herself, and taught reading, especially to grownups, for many years. Reading, she said, was among her greatest pleasures. She lessened the burdens of many, and to no one brought aggravation. A loyal friend and a good mother, she became a gracious, loving grandmother and great-grandmother. She was one who brought warmth into everything she did, and made a difference in many lives.  A Memorial Service will be held this summer.

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Published in The Boston Globe on Feb. 12, 2020
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