Shirley M. Plitt, 93

Dec. 7, 1923 - Nov. 02, 2017
Shirley M. Plitt, Dec. 7, 1923 - Nov. 02, 2017

Shirley Plitt, who spent her childhood summers on Shelter Island and met her husband, who also spent summers there, through mutual summer friends, died last Thursday at the Kanas Center for Hospice Care in Quiogue, where she had been taken a few days before. She was 93 and had been diagnosed with cancer two years ago.

Ms. Plitt had been a member of the Ladies Village Improvement Society since 1959 and liked working the “chance” booth at its annual July family fair and, later, taking pride of place at the entry gate. She and her husband, the late Robert G. Plitt, were members of the Guild Hall Players, working alongside each other on productions including “The Tender Trap” in 1959 and “Stalag 17” in 1958. She was also active for about 20 years with the East Hampton unit of the American Cancer Society and was its president for a time, leading a fund-raising drive that was known as the East Hampton Town Cancer Crusade.

She loved watching old movies, her daughter, Michel Plitt Wirth, said, and “her door was always open to anyone who wanted to drop in for a visit or needed a place to stay,” including stray animals, of which she had at one time four dogs and three cats.

Shirley May Plitt was born in Manhattan on Dec. 7, 1923, the only child of the former Anna Butt and Raphael Schulum. She grew up in the Bronx and graduated from Hunter High School in 1940, having studied English, French, and algebra, and then earned a B.A. at Hunter College in 1944. She went to work for Prentice Hall publishers. 

After meeting and marrying Mr. Plitt — who had served as a meteorologist with the Air Force during the war — in 1948, the couple lived in Manhattan and Hudson, N.Y., moving to East Hampton in 1954, when Mr. Plitt, the former manager of General Motors in Albany, bought Willard Motors, the Ford and Mercury dealership that used to stand where the C.V.S. pharmacy is now.

Once they were living here, Ms. Plitt ran the office for her husband while he sold cars. The business later moved to Wainscott. She retired when her husband became ill in 2009. He died in August 2011.

Her grandchildren, Molly Wirth of New York City, and William Plitt and Lucas Plitt, both of East Hampton, spent a huge amount of time with their “Grammy,” whose East Hampton Village house, her daughter said, “was the hub” of their world. They would bake brownies with her, play Monopoly, and go on adventures to the Nature Trail, Ms. Wirth said. Her mother never lost her slightly irreverent wit, Ms. Wirth said, even when she was in pain.

In addition to her daughter and three grandchildren, Ms. Plitt’s son, Jeffrey R. Plitt of Springs, survives. Ms. Plitt was cremated. Memorial donations have been suggested for East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach 11978 or eeh.org. Ms. Wirth is planning a memorial for both parents in the spring.