Virginia W. LaPlante
June 28, 2019
MA - Virginia W. LaPlante, 88, of Brookline and Rockport, Massachusetts,
died peacefully at her home in Brookline, on June 28, 2019. A book editor
specializing in the behavioral sciences, she spent most of her career at
Harvard University Press. She edited its top bestseller, In A Different
Voice, a study of women's psychology by Carol Gilligan that was translated
into 17 languages. LaPlante's other authors included Anna Freud, Helen
Vendler, Judith Herman (Father-Daughter Incest and Trauma and Recovery),
civil rights attorney Arthur Kinoy (Rights on Trial), pathologist Guido
Majno (The Healing Hand), and therapist Terrence Real (I Don't Want To Talk
"Virginia was a dream editor," said Dr. Herman, Professor of Psychiatry at
Harvard Medical School. "Somehow, whatever you wrote, it came back so much
clearer after she edited it, and you thought, 'Oh, that's what I wanted to
say.' Virginia didn't impose her point of view; she helped you say what you
wanted to say more clearly and elegantly."
LaPlante retired from Harvard Press in 1988. For the next three decades she
continued as a freelancer to edit fiction and nonfiction by many authors
including her daughter, Eve LaPlante.
A lifelong activist, LaPlante had a passion for public service. In 1971 she
was elected to Brookline's Town Meeting, in which she served until her
death. She served on the town's Advisory Committee to the Board of Selectmen
for 12 years. She was a founding and board member of Jobs with Peace. In
2011 the peace group PAX honored her and her late husband Carl Dreyfus with
its Ethel Halperin Lifetime Achievement Award.
Born in Pittsburgh in 1930, LaPlante was the youngest daughter of Philip J.
Wilson Jr., a chemical engineer, and Virginia E. Wilson. LaPlante grew up in
Pittsburgh, attended Bennington College on a full scholarship, graduating in
1952, and began her career in Boston, at Beacon Press. In 1953 she married
Joseph A. LaPlante Jr., of Salem, with whom she moved to Hartford,
Connecticut, when he began teaching at the University of Connecticut School
of Law. They had a daughter in 1958 and divorced in 1962.
LaPlante was married to Carl Dreyfus Jr., a Boston insurance agent, from
1974 until his death, in 2010. An avid tennis player, LaPlante spend many
summers in Rockport, where she and her husband could often be seen on the
In addition to her daughter, LaPlante is survived by her son-in-law, David
Dorfman; step-sons Peter, Andrew, and Tony Dreyfus; grandchildren Rose
LaPlante, Clara Dorfman, Charlotte LaPlante, and Philip Dorfman; and many
step-grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her
sisters, Phoebe Hoss and Judith Fouser; and two step-children, Sylvia and
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 3, at 11 a.m., at the
First Parish in Brookline, 382 Walnut Street, Brookline, Massachusetts,
followed by a reception.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Massachusetts Audubon
Society. Condolences can be sent to 42 Welland Road, Brookline, MA 02245.