Friday, January 8, 2016

R.I.P. | Natalie Wales Douglas-Hamilton

Working on Bundles for Britain.
Natalie Wales Douglas-Hamilton, also known by her husband's first name as Lady Malcolm, passed away on January 14, 2013 at 103.

Born Natalie Scarritt Wales in 1909, she grew up in Boston and New York City, where she attended Nightingale School, graduating in 1928, and then Columbia University. She became an American Florence Nightingale, aggregating volunteer help and money to assist those suffering in World War II.

She was first married to Kenelm Winslow in 1928, and with him gave birth to Natalie Wales Mead (1930-1988), known as Bubbles, and Mary-Chilton Winslow Mead (1934-2014), known as Mimi, who also attended Nightingale before going on to Brearley and then Radcliffe.

Natalie divorced Winslow and remarried in 1937. In 1939, soon after Britain declared war on Germany, when she was known as Natalie Latham, she asked the British Ambassador to the United States what Britain needed that ordinary Americans could supply.
The answer: knitted caps for sailors. So she got to work, building a national organization with nearly 2,000 branches and over 1.5 million volunteers working to send to Britain not only knitted items but also X-ray machines, ambulances, children‘s cots, surgical instruments and more, all labeled “From your American friends.” 
She enlisted the help of Joan Crawford, Clementine Churchill, Janet Murrow, Louise Carnegie and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. For her services in WWII, she was named the first non-British woman to be named an honorary Commander of the British Empire (C.B.E.) by King George VI in 1946. Bundles for Britain was just the first of many organizations she founded. At the request of the White House, she created a related group, Bundles for America, to aid Americans during the war. In 1947 she established Common Cause, an anticommunist group, and thereby met her third husband, Edward Bragg Paine. Among other things, the organization shipped food during the Berlin airlift and sheltered refugees (sometimes in her own home).

After the death of her third husband, Natalie met Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton, and they married in 1953. Together, they started the American-Scottish Foundation to strengthen ties between Scotland and the United States. After Lord Malcolm‘s tragic death in a plane crash in 1964, Lady Malcolm continued to devote herself to the foundation, organizing “Scotland Week” in New York City and creating the annual Scottish Ball fundraiser. She also established the Wallace Award, celebrating an individual's contribution to American-Scottish relations, as well as Scotland House, a gathering place for those with Scottish roots and a center for Scottish culture. [Sources: the Nightingale-Bamford School, The Blue Doors, Fall 2013; the Boston Globe; and the New York Times.]

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