Uncle Joe and Aunt Midge
Let us call you sweetheart, Uncle Joe.....
Joseph Nathanson and his wife Midge founded Camp Matoaka for Girls in Smithfield, Maine. They served as Directors, Caretakers, and Counselors to hundreds of girls who attended each summer. Uncle Joe and Aunt Midge, as they were affectionately known by all, built Camp Matoaka from a sheep farm.
Born in Millis, Massachusetts, Uncle Joe was one of nine children who helped his parents run “Nathanson’s Hotel.” Upon graduation from Cushing Academy, Uncle Joe went to The University of New Hampshire on a football scholarship. He became Captain of the baseball team his senior year and was the fifth highest college scorer in the United States. After graduation from UNH, he turned down an offer to sign with the Red Sox and chose a career in teaching and coaching while playing semi-pro football for the Portland Sagamores.
In 1942 Uncle Joe played baseball for the Army’s Algiers Baseball League and served as a Captain in the U.S. Army’s 13th anti-aircraft artillery Gun Battalion in the Battle of the Bulge.
After the war Joe accepted a position teaching math and coaching football in Wayland, Massachusetts. Within a few years he accepted a position teaching math at Weeks Junior High School in Newton, Massachusetts. Uncle Joe later received a scholarship from the Newton Public Schools to Harvard University where he received a graduate degree in Administration. He then became a principal at Newton South High School where he remained for 35 years until his retirement. Sadly, Uncle Joe died on Friday, July 17th, 1998; he was 85 years of age.
Midge Nathanson met Uncle Joe during World War II through her job with Jordan Marsh Department Store. While serving as Mom to her three children, Susan, Michael, and Peter, Aunt Midge was also Director, Office Manager, Dietician, Confidant, and Counselor to the girls at Matoaka. She could be found substituting in the kitchen for an ailing chef or working alongside carpenters, driving in nails for a much-needed bunk bed. She had a deep sensitivity for all children and treated her responsibilities with great compassion and dignity. Her philosophy for helping first time and homesick campers formed the foundation of Camp Matoaka’s success in the camping industry. Aunt Midge passed away of Alzheimer’s disease in January 2002 in Hollywood, Fla. She was 82.