Lady Natalie Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton
1909 – 2013
Founder of The American-Scottish Foundation
Lady Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton was born Natalie Scarritt Wales in Cohasset, Massachusetts in 1909. She grew up in Boston and New York City.
Her career began in 1939 when she learned of the devastation and isolation of Great Britain in the early years of World War II. She took the train to Washington, D.C. to ask the British Ambassador, Lord Lothian, what Britain needed that ordinary Americans could supply.
Lord Lothian inquired, and the answer came back: knitted Balaclava helmets for the merchant navy, who were suffering from exposure and freezing temperatures shepherding convoys in the North Atlantic. The wool was supplied, the knitting began and Natalie organized Bundles for Britain, which eventually had over two and a half million men and women as members, knitting helmets, sweaters, gloves; rolling bandages and packing medicines; creating clothing drives, blood drives and canned food drives across the country.
In 1946, Natalie was made an honorary Commander of the British Empire for her services in World War II. She was the first non-British woman to be so honoured.
1947, faced with the growing Soviet threat in Europe, Natalie and her husband, Edward Bragg Paine, created Common Cause, Inc, the first "American citizens organization to combat communism". She turned her dynamism and organizational skills once again to a cause she believed in, raising funds, holding seminars, shipping food during the Berlin airlift and using American legal interventions to shelter refugees-sometimes tin her own home. Her husband died suddenly in 1951.
In that same year, as a young American widow she went to England to make a speech about Communism in the House of Commons. She met Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton, the Member of Parliament for Inverness-shire and an ardent anti-communist. She later married him, and they lived in Scotland and England for several years. Returning to the United States, Lord and Lady Malcolm together created The American-Scottish Foundation, Inc. in 1956, to strengthen the historic ties between Scotland and the United States.
Lord Malcolm was tragically killed with his 21-year-old son, Niall, in an airplane crash in Cameroon, West Africa in 1964. Devastated by her loss, Lady Malcolm found some strength in continuing Lord Malcolm's dreams for the Foundation. In the early 1970s she organized "Scotland Week" in New York City. She obtained permission from the Fifth Avenue Association to have crossed American and Scottish flags on every other lamppost. She asked the famous Fifth Avenue shops between 60th and 34th Streets to give their front windows (and inside) a Scottish motif. There was a 2-day Economic Meeting with Scottish and American economists and professors. There were Scottish concerts, pipe bands, the Scottish Symphony, an art exhibit and many parties during the gala week.
Lady Malcolm also inaugurated The Scottish Ball, one of the most beautiful, memorable and "fun" events of the social year. It was held, at the Hotel Plaza, and was eagerly anticipated each year. She also created The Wallace Award, the single most prestigious event in the Scottish-American calendar celebrating outstanding achievement primarily of American - Scots.
Lady Malcolm was particularly enthusiastic about creating Scotland House, a special dream of Lord Malcolm's, to be a central gathering place for American Scots, visiting Scots, students, people seeking their Scottish roots--a place for all. The first Scotland House was opened in the mid-70s at 124 East 39th Street by New York City Mayor Abraham Beame, and was an instant success. A later Scotland House was on Fifth Avenue in the 80s and of course the present Scotland House at 575 Madison Avenue.
She had two daughters, six grandchildren and 11 grandchildren and retired in Stillwater, New Jersey.
Lady Malcolm passed away, after a busy and fufilling life, on January 14, 2013 at the age of 103.
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