Silverbergs give to preserve Chautauqua for their grandchildren


Linda and Dan Silverberg. Photo by Demetrius Freeman.

Sarah Gelfand | Staff Writer

When Linda Silverberg enters the Main Gate for the first time each season, she said she starts humming the theme song from “Brigadoon,” the 1954 film about an enchanted Scottish village.

“I think (Chautauqua) is magical,” Linda said. “It’s a Brigadoon or a Camelot; it’s truly unique.”

Linda and her husband, Dan, started coming to Chautauqua 25 years ago. After buying a house on the grounds two years ago, they now spend the full season here, hosting Linda’s three children and six grandchildren, along with a variety of guests.

The Silverbergs are from Cleveland, though they spend part of their year in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Linda is a retired judge, and Dan is a semi-retired real estate developer. Linda serves on the board of the Cleveland International Piano Competition and is involved with the area’s women’s shelters. They are both strong supporters of young musicians in Florida and Ohio.

Since retiring, Linda has taken up writing, thanks in part to Chautauqua’s programming. She is active in the Writers’ Center and the pre-season Writers’ Festival. Both the Silverbergs busy themselves with nine full weeks of Chautauqua’s programming, including Special Studies courses and daily lectures, and said they find it hard to fit all they want to do into one day. Dan, who is an avid golfer, said he rarely finds time to make it across Route 394 to the golf course, despite carrying his golf clubs in his trunk for the past two years.

“I gladly sacrificed my playing golf,” Dan said. “Whenever I thought about playing during the week, there was always some program that I didn’t want to miss, in the morning or afternoon, or both.”

Linda, however, said Chautauqua’s host of offerings — and the ability to take advantage and choose among them — is her favorite part of Chautauqua.

“What I love the most about Chautauqua is the freedom; it’s just intoxicating,” Linda said. “Everybody’s free to be who they are, who they want to be. This is a place where children learn to ride a bike; where people discover they can write poetry or paint or use a computer. (Chautauqua) is the freedom to become.”

Adding to their many philanthropic efforts in their two hometowns, the Silverbergs became members of the Bestor Society this season. Linda and Dan said they wanted to help contribute to a place that their family was becoming a part of, more and more.

“I’ve been involved in the philanthropic community all my life, and I know that the things we love need tending to,” Linda said. “We truly love Chautauqua, and it’s given us so much pleasure. Making a contribution was a way of giving something back, and other people have done the same for many, many decades, or it wouldn’t be here the way it is for us to enjoy it. We want it to endure in just this way — this snapshot of idyllic America for our grandchildren.”

When the Silverbergs first came to Chautauqua, they found an enriching place — a more stimulating experience than their typical summers in Cleveland. As they increasingly incorporate the Institution in their lives, they decided to continue their family tradition of generosity and philanthropy by supporting the Institution.