Artist and designer Freddy Medora Espy Plimpton died peacefully in her sleep at the Vermont Respite House on Sunday morning, February 22. She was 73.
The daughter of Willard R. Espy and Hilda Cole Espy, both writers, Pllimpton was born in New York City and grew up in Mt. Kisco, New York alongside her twin sister, Mona Schreiber, her younger sisters Joanna Espy and Cassy Espy, and her younger brother, Jefferson Espy. She graduated from Fox Lane High School in 1959, and then attended Parsons School of Design. She moved to New York in the early sixties, where she worked at Random House writing book jacket copy, and later became a photographer’s assistant.
Considered one of the great beauties of the times, she married author and editor George Ames Plimpton in 1968, with whom she later had two children, Medora Ames Plimpton and Taylor Ames Plimpton. Plimpton traveled with her husband on the campaign trail as an integral part of Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 run for the presidency, and was present to witness the great tragedy at the Ambassador Hotel when Kennedy was shot and killed.
She was a talented editor and a trusted reader of some of George Plimpton’s finest work, including his bestseller Paper Lion. Plimpton also worked intimately with a group of creative personalities, including her husband, Christopher Cerf, and Tony Hendra, among others, on Not the New York Times, a spoof of the paper they put out when the Times was on strike in 1978. She was also an accomplished interior designer and Feng Shui master, and her Sagaponack home was featured in Architectural Digest.
Known to her friends as “Forthright Freddy,” Plimpton was extraordinarily bright, witty and generous, and her sense of wonder and adventure was contagious. A great lover of the ocean and the night sky, as well as local birds and wildlife, Plimpton spent much of the last 30 years of her life as a resident of Southampton. A devoted sister, mother and grandmother, she was at her best when caring for the people she loved. Plimpton is survived by her sisters and her children, as well as by her beloved grandchildren, Addison Ames Harris and Tanner Plimpton Harris.
In lieu of flowers, Plimpton’s family is encouraging donations to the Vermont Respite House (99 Allen Brook Lane, Williston, VT 05495), which took such compassionate care of her during her final days.