March 13, 1935 – January 23, 2021
Former Air Force Lieutenant Natalie Earnst Englekirk died January 23 after fighting a courageous battle with COVID-19. She was surrounded by Bob, her husband of nearly 60 years, and much of her family. She was 85 years old.
Natalie was born in 1935 to Alice Kuck and William Earnst in Lima, Ohio. She grew up in Lima and excelled in her studies, in particular math and art. She received a degree in nursing from the Miami Valley Hospital School of Nursing in 1956. Natalie was an adventurous young woman, whose biggest dream was to see the world. After graduating, she joined the Air Force as a nurse.
She was stationed at the Torrejon Air Force Base in Spain, where she met Bob who was also serving in the Air Force. They married in 1961.
In the mid-1960s they settled in Pacific Palisades where they raised their three children. Natalie was a gregarious lady who was involved in many activities—bridge, golf, tennis, a stock group, swimming, yoga, Pilates, charity work, museums and for one year, even karate. She served on the LACMA advisory board, the Pacific Palisades Art Council and was active in the Westside Guild Children’s Hospital charity.
Together with Bob the family began what was a long history of traveling together to exotic places, visiting well over 125 countries during her lifetime. She and Bob were not just world travelers, but parents of the world, as they hosted several foreign students and sponsored a number of immigrants seeking asylum in the United States, including an engineer and his family from Romania in the early 1980s and recently a young female engineer from China.
Natalie was an incredible hostess for the many large gatherings held by the couple. She had a gift of involving everyone, particularly family, in the entertaining chores, especially the cooking. A good cook in her own right, she encouraged others to share their talents in her kitchen, though she was playfully banned from helping with the Thanksgiving meal after being caught putting only a teaspoon of butter and nonfat milk in the mashed potatoes.
She was known for her eccentric diets, a dedication to nutrition and exercise, and the abstinence of sugar in her house, something her children and grandchildren delightfully bemoaned and teased her about up to the day she passed. As a tribute it seemed only fitting that her grandson read to her from a well-worn 1970’s edition of the book “Sugar Busters for Kids”: it was the last book she ever heard.
An artist since childhood, she became serious about painting in the 1970s and soon became adept at putting family experiences on canvas, as well as her personal reflections of the beauty of the world. She exhibited her work in Pacific Palisades and Palm Springs on several occasions. She also illustrated a number of Bob’s publications, from travel books to novels. Throughout her artistic career, she was constantly evolving her style by taking painting workshops in many places. She was always anxious to learn more.
She is survived by her husband, Bob, sons Doug (Dana) of Zephyr Cove, Nevada; Mark (DeeDee) of Littleton, Colorado; and Ryan of Rancho Mirage, California; as well as her sister, Billie Jean of Forest Grove, Oregon, and her six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and one very special and infamous grandkitty (Wendell).
Never one for somber events, a large party and celebration of Natalie’s life will be held when conditions are safer. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you wear masks, wash your hands and practice pandemic common sense … though my dad says, “wine and tequila age better than flowers” and are always welcome.
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