Tribute to Jane Plimpton Plakias

AFLSE notes the passing of a member of AFLSE and long-time friend of the London School of Economics.

With great sadness, AFLSE has learned of the death of Jane Plimpton Plakias, who for many years managed AFLSE’s office in Washington, D.C. Plakias was the first professional administrator and was instrumental in developing AFLSE’s scholarship program that at times received over 100 applications annually and offered as many as eight grants a year. For prospective American applicants to LSE, she offered encouragement and answers to many questions, keeping up with the increasing variety of LSE programs and offerings in the days before such information could be found via the internet. For many, Jane Plakias became a very personal link to the School.

Plakias had wanted to attend the LSE herself, but World War ll intervened. From Vassar College, where she was president of the Student Political Association (and became a lifelong friend of Eleanor Roosevelt) she moved to government work in Washington, and then to UNRRA, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, first in New York (where she also studied and danced with Martha Graham’s group) and then with its relief efforts in post-war Europe and even Tibet.

Her next position was with the Ford Foundation, which took her back to South Asia, where she met her husband, John Plakias, soon joining him as a foreign service wife in the Netherlands, New York, and finally back to Washington, where she set up a small office at the Workplace offering services to non-profit organizations.  This is where she began her work with AFLSE.

In addition to her work with AFLSE, Plakias worked tirelessly for many years on the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site in Buffalo, her home town, the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill, and the English Speaking Union. In more recent years, her extensive travels (often through London, always with visits to the LSE) even included the North Pole. Also, it should be noted that she made a generous grant for a scholarship in honor of Elizabeth Smith Brownstein, president of the AFLSE for six years.

Jane Plakias led an adventurous life. She was a great raconteur, and there seemed to be nowhere, nor anyone, she didn’t know well, as guests to her elegant dinner parties can attest. Jane and her talents came along to a growing AFLSE just in time, and her loyalty and love of our organization and the School will be remembered with great affection and appreciation.