Obituaries 07-11-2024

Jo-Del Nye Gaeth

Community Activist and 40-year resident of Beacon Hill

Jo-Del Nye Gaeth died peacefully in San Diego, CA after a brief but fierce battle with pancreatic cancer.

Born in Bentonville, Arkansas, Jo-Del grew up in Omaha, Nebraska where she attended Omaha North High School. She went on to graduate from the University of Nebraska, where she was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority, and earned a degree in Education.

In 1964, she married Douglas Gaeth: 17 years earlier, she had been the only girl invited to his 5th birthday party. For the 52 years of marriage that followed, Jo-Del and Doug held hands through life, both literally and figuratively. Theirs was truly a once in a universe love.

Upon completion of Doug’s Naval service during the Vietnam War, the couple moved to Boston, where they spent the next 47 years building a life filled with friends, laughter, and love. Their daughters Hillary and Allegra arrived, and the couple based their family in Beacon Hill, where they lived for more than 40 years. Jo-Del became a fixture of the community: known and loved by all, she was famous for her annual Fourth of July parties, her unflagging congeniality, and her love of a good rooftop grown tomato plant.

Jo-Del worked for the City of Boston for many years within the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. On her watch, the city celebrated its famous ‘Jubilee 350’ anniversary, initiated the annual ‘Summerthing’ Concerts on the Common, and brought the beloved Japanese House to the Boston Children’s Museum. After nearly 20 years of translating her passion for culture, art, history, and music into experiences that generations of Bostonians would enjoy, Jo-Del joined the Young Presidents’ Organization as New England Chapter Administrator. There, she spearheaded countless educational, cultural, business, and global forums for two decades, until her retirement in 2014.

Jo-Del loved a soaring aria, a fantastic dinner party, the thrill of a great thrift store find, the pleasure of a well crafted hat, the satisfaction of a hilariously crafted letter, and- above all- her grandchildren. She taught each of them to enjoy the feeling of a feisty fish on the line, regaled them with tales of her exploits-through stories perfectly well told-and impressed indelibly upon them the importance of “holding the moments.”

Jo-Del was predeceased by her beloved Doug, who passed in 2016. She is survived by her four grandchildren: Marlowe, Beckett, Horatio, and Tennyson. Jo-Del is also survived by her adoring daughters and sons-in-law, Hillary and Paul Ashton of San Diego, CA and Allegra and David Aufderhaar of San Francisco, CA.

A Private Service and Burial is to be held at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to Boston Conservatory at Berklee in Jo-Del’s memory.

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