Treasured travel destination offers community, tradition for Wadsworths

Matt Burkhartt | Staff Photographer
Chautauquans John and Linda Wadsworth pose for a portrait on their property on Potter Road in Mayville.

Since John and Linda Wadsworth were married in 1987, they have been coming to Chautauqua and immersing themselves in the community — particularly the performing arts.

While John is a retired psychiatrist, Linda previously worked for the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo in fundraising and donor services. With an avid love for travel and the performing arts, the couple has been happy to make Chautauqua one of their recurrent destinations.

The Wadsworths have impacted the Chautauqua community primarily through their commitment to the opera program.

“We’re both great opera lovers and enjoy the Chautauqua Opera tremendously,” Linda said. “It’s really the only professional opera company in our part of western New York for us to see live opera.”

Although the couple said the opera program is their primary focus, they insist that they enjoy many of the other performing arts programs as well.

“We also enjoy the ballet,” Linda said. “We have a granddaughter who enjoys ballet and she has taken classes at the Institution. We also love going to the concerts Saturday nights and the theater.”

Although Chautauqua is a family tradition for the Wadsworths, who treasure sharing the summers with their grandchildren on the grounds, it has also provided them with a home away from their hometown of Buffalo, New York.

“It’s given us a feeling of community and it’s been meaningful,” John said. “I guess you could say we have our own world in Chautauqua that we feel a good part of and that we feel is important.”

The couple, who split time across the state during the summer, said they enjoy returning home after a season at Chautauqua with a refreshed knowledge of current events. According to John, Chautauqua has given the pair “a much tighter sense of being aware of and up-to-speed on big issues of our day.”

Linda said she and her husband “always learn something every summer. My husband particularly enjoyed Charles Murray last summer, but we always like to see Billy Collins, Roger Rosenblatt and Ken Burns … It’s very enriching to our lives.”

For the upcoming season, Linda said she is greatly looking forward to the first week of programming as well as the Week Four lecture series, “Emerging Citizenship: The Egyptian Experience.”

“I’ve been to Egypt several times,” she said. “One of my daughters lived there, so I am particularly interested in hearing what people have to say about Egypt and the Middle East.”

Aside from being active community members, grandparents and devoted opera patrons, the Wadsworths have also significantly contributed to Chautauqua’s financial future in more ways than one, giving to the Institution in the three ways that one can give. 

In the early 1990s, the Wadsworths decided to invest in the Institution by making a gift to the Chautauqua Foundation’s pooled life income fund, a trust that makes payments to donors until they are no longer living; the remaining investment is added to Chautauqua’s endowment.

“I guess for various financial reasons we thought it would be a wise choice,” John said.

Supporting the Institution was important to the couple, Linda added, and the pooled life income fund “was a very efficient, easy way for us to do it.”

The couple has also established an endowment for the opera and has added to that fund over the years. More recently, John and Linda have contributed generously to the Amphitheater project as part of the Promise Campaign along with their annual gift.

For more information on how you can contribute to the Promise Campaign, please contact Karen Blozie, director of planned giving, Chautauqua Foundation, at 716 357-6244 or email