2018-11-30 / Obituaries

Natalie Richdale

Natalie Dane Richdale died peacefully at home in Kennebunk on Nov. 4, 2018. She was 97 years old and the last living Dane to reside in Kennebunk. Both her paternal and maternal grandparents made Kennebunk their home and Natalie, an only child, grew up spending summers between the Dane cottage on Great Hill Road and the Oliver Farm in West Kennebunk.

Born in Chillicothe, Ohio, to Joseph Dane and Sylvia Oliver Dane, Natalie grew up near Boston. She graduated from Belmont High School in 1939 and Middlebury College in 1943 with a degree in chemistry. Even though few women majored in chemistry at the time, Natalie would joke that she barely made it out of Middlebury, “I somehow managed to pass comprehensive exams that covered all four undergraduate years – I guess they didn’t include physics.”

During World War II, Natalie worked in Boston as a chemist for the firm of Arthur D. Little. Her job was to develop a chemical that could be substituted for cinnamon, a spice the U.S. couldn’t import during the war. It wasn’t long before Natalie moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to live in a rooming house with three other equally social, active young women (“We had a ball”). She got a job with GE where she met her first husband, Gordon. They moved to South Glens Falls, New York, where they raised their three children. Natalie was a stay-at-home mom who was very involved in her children’s lives. She was famous for, on a moment’s notice, being able to make cupcakes with everyone’s name for a classroom celebration. Natalie and Gordon divorced in 1959.

In 1966 Natalie married Jack Richdale. They lived in Lynnwood, Massachusetts, Cincinnati and Punta Gorda, Florida and enjoyed a life together that was filled with children and grandchildren, friends, travel, golf and summers in Maine for 39 years. After Jack’s death in 2006, the Dane summer cottage at Kennebunk Beach continued to be a “friends and family hotel” with a steady stream of friends, children and grandchildren.

If you got up early enough you could join Natalie on her “sun run” – her morning bike ride into Kennebunkport for the paper.

Natalie was especially loved by her grandchildren because she loved to play! She called herself “the camp director” and drove the boat for water-skiers, searched tide pools for marine creatures, made endless drip castles on the beach, taught everyone how to body surf and hauled out blocks and board games on rainy days. Maris, one of those grandchildren, wrote, “she was the conductor of a million salt-water memories.

Known for her spunk and spirit Natalie spent her final years enjoying her beloved cat Harley, making her famous fish chowder and blueberry pie, sitting on the front porch of her cottage greeting much loved neighbors and friends, laughing with the now famous “girls,” supervising the pulling of rocks out of the rose bushes, communicating with Jack (“It’s a boat day Jack”) and honoring her father’s pet peeve by yelling at the passing cars to “SLOW DOWN!”

Natalie is survived by her son Fred and daughters Roxie, Joanne, Margo and June as well as by five grandchildren – Andy, James, Maris, Brian and Eric and two great grandchildren – Finley and Clara. She will be missed and remembered by all whose lives she touched and who she loved and inspired.

The family will plan a celebration of Natalie’s life for next summer. Natalie spent many hours volunteering at the Brick Store Museum, a job she loved. If you wish to donate in her memory please consider the Brick Store Museum, www.brickstoremuseum.org.

Return to top