Upon her death, Natalie White bequeathed her 19-acre forested land above Orcas Island’s Westsound to a dear friend with the understanding that it will pass along to the San Juan Preservation Trust when her friend passes away or no longer wishes to own the property. This letter appeared in the Islands Sounder in December 2011:
As there was only the briefest notice of Natalie’s death, I wish to solute her life.
As a child she lived with her Germanic grandmother in Missouri; as a teen, she moved to Seattle to be with her father at the Sorrento Hotel, which he owned. She was related to Wallace Berry, Hollywood character actor of the 20s to 50s. She attended the University of Washington, married twice and had four children. In the 1950s she saw a space ship over Seattle.
She was woman of strong opinions. She was generous of her time and the products of her garden and orchard. She raised beautiful roses. She was never boring.
She taught at grade schools in California, Wyoming and at a small school in her home on Orcas Island. Her young students learned about Japan (and many other things) by each sewing a kimono, composing haiku and printing these poems on the paper they made, and forming them into a book, which won a prize at the San Juan County Fair. They prepared a Japanese feast for their parents. They learned about the natural world by caring for guinea pigs.
She taught English as a second language. One Christmas Eve we played Scrabble using only Spanish words (never too old to learn). But she kindly allowed me to use a Spanish/English dictionary.
Every day she fed her cats, the few remaining guinea pigs, and several raccoon families. Lately these raccoons have come here looking for her. I miss her, too.
Jean Dowling, Eastsound
From the Islands’ Sounder, December 2011