Nathaniel Hartshorne: Writer, Editor, Actor, Husband and Father
September 18, 1926 –March 28, 2018
Nathaniel Hartshorne, a longtime resident of Blawenburg, died peacefully in his home on March 28, following a brief illness. Nat was born on September 18,1926 in New York City to Robert and Esther Hartshorne. He attended St. Paul’s school and Hamilton college and spent 2 years in the U.S. Navy, serving as the quartermaster on a ship in the Philippines.
On March 7, 1953, Nat married Valerie Thomas, also of Locust, N.J.
Nat and Valerie moved from Brooklyn, N.Y. to Blawenburg in1960 and from that time to the present have lived in their beloved home, the old tavern building, in the heart of Blawenburg.
There they raised four children, hosted weddings, and entertained a constant flow of friends and family.
Nat was truly a man for all seasons. He spent most of his career as an editor and freelance magazine and newspaper writer. His articles and stories have appeared in Harpers, The New York Times, Family Circle, The Ladies’ Home Journal, and American Heritage magazine. Nat worked for 25 years as a Senior Editor at ETS and as a Managing Editor at the Princeton Theological Seminary.
Nat was also a stage actor. His lifelong love of the theatre began in childhood. He spoke with great pride of joining his mother and older brother in musical productions in their home. In his adult years, Nat went on to perform in countless summer stock and regional productions.
A National Treasure, a play Nat wrote with Charles Leeder, was produced at the Mill Hill Playhouse in Trenton in 1988. In March 2018, Nat produced Keeping in Touch, a collection of his personal letters to his friends and his family, which were known for their wit and their warmth.
Beyond his many accomplishments over 91 years, Nat will be most remembered by those who knew him for his interest in other people. Speaking with Nat you always knew he gave you his undivided and non-judgmental attention. “How are you doing?,” and “Tell me about…..,” always preceded any discussion of his own interests and activities.
Nat had a lifelong love of music, from Count Basie to attending the symphony in Princeton. Many hours as he worked in his office he enjoyed his library of jazz and passed along a love of the music to his children.
Chopping wood, mowing the lawn, writing for hours in his study and, above all, making a home for his family, Nat is remembered with great love by the many people whom he touched in this world. Nat was the master of the comfortable routine, he cherished ritual and the cozy home he and Val created.
Nat is survived by his wife, Valerie, his four children, Anne, Jennifer, Max and Caroline, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A private memorial service will be held in July.
Elizabeth von Pier
April 5, 2018 @ 5:57 am
My deepest sympathies to Nat’s family and friends. I would have liked to know him. He lived a long and full life, and I think Max inherited from him his writing and editing skills.
April 6, 2018 @ 11:30 am
From one of dad’s oldest friends, Kent Young….
Nat, Nick Rutgers and I grew up in Monmouth County together. Nat and I did it mostly alongside Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper and James Cagney. Nat had almost all the imagination in our re-enactments. We survived SPS, WWll in the navy, his fascinating career in editing , writing and the theatre, his marriage to the remarkable, beautiful Valerie. The first time they invited me for dinner in Brooklyn Heights their dog ate the meal off the table. Val went out to the store, started from scratch and produced the best beef stroganoff I ever tasted! What a long, fine marriage they had. I am so grateful for our friendship over 80 + years.
My love now is for Val and their family; for Nat– au revoir.
October 3, 2020 @ 7:30 pm
Nat and Valerie were kind enough to invite me into their charming Blawenburg home to stay with them for an entire autumn in 1979 when my wife moved to California for her job a few months ahead of me. I had contracted to stay to run the publicity campaign for the Rockefeller Public Service Awards at Princeton that fall. Nat and I had met at ETS and had already been mentoring me as a budding freelance journalist. Every Saturday morning he and I would fire up my Chevy Blazer and use the 4 wheel drive to explore the sprawling 300-plus wooded acres at ETS for standing dead trees. Under the watchful eyes of his faithful canine companion Homer Jones, we would cut down, buck, and load firewood to take home to fuel his two wood stoves. A great man in my life.
October 4, 2020 @ 7:30 pm
Thanks Doug for sharing this wonderful story about Nat. I loved him and miss him terribly.