In Memoriam: Nadine Athearn


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death of retiree Nadine Athearn on August 23.  She was 83.

Nadine was born on November 14, 1927, in Quincy, MA.  She graduated from Woodward High School in Quincy in 1946. She also attended Ricker Junior College in Houlton, ME, from 1946-1947 and the University of Rhode Island in 1947. At the time she was a budding naturalist and was a member of the Boston Science Museum Explorers Club, and volunteered at, and later worked for, the Museum of Natural History. She was employed by Cambosco Scientific as a collector of scientific specimens such as frogs, grasshoppers, crayfish, and shells. She would often recall when she brought two young alligators home. Though they usually lived in the bathtub, on cold nights she would have to sleep with them to keep them warm. After her time with Cambosco, she married William Athearn. They moved to Cape Cod, and, here, they raised two children.

She began working at WHOI in 1955 as a titrator, working under Dean Bumpus.  She left in 1959 and was rehired as a casual lab assistant in 1965, working under Vaughan Bowen and left in 1967.  She was then rehired in 1980 as a housekeeper and transferred to the Graphic Services department in 1981 as a printer's assistant. She transferred and changed her status to janitor in 1982 and was promoted to security guard in 1987.  She retired in 1996.

During the early 1970s, Nadine and her family moved to Puerto Rico, where she spent much time birding, snorkeling, and bringing English language books to needy children in the small mountain villages. She would eventually return to Falmouth and Woods Hole where she later did companion work for several Falmouth residents.

Nadine was a founding member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Falmouth and a Girl Scout Cadette leader for many years. She loved camping, and, in the mid-1960s, she took her children on a 40-day, cross-country camping trip to visit the national parks. She was an avid collector of shells, coins and stamps, and loved photography, ornithology, crocheting, knitting, needlepoint, and punch-rug making. Her interests led to several memberships, including the Sierra Club, Spohr Gardens, Heritage Plantation in Sandwich, and Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

She leaves her younger brother, Hjalmar Nelson; two children, Marion and James Athearn; two grandchildren; and eight nieces and nephews.

There are no calling hours, and services will be held at a later date. Donations may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Falmouth, 840 Sandwich Road, East Falmouth, MA, 02536- 4023.

Some of the information for this obituary was taken from the Falmouth Enterprise.


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