Richard G. Whalen of Natick, formerly of Hopkinton, passed away Sept. 2 under the care of the Mary Ann Morse Healthcare Center in Natick.
He was the beloved husband of Mary S. Burke, devoted father of Geralyn Burke of Newport, Rhode Island, and the late Scott R. Whalen of Chelmsford, and father-in-law to Lynn Walker Whalen. He was the loving grandfather of Kylie, Lilie and Caroline Whalen and Natalie Rodrigues. He was the son of the late Gordon and Alice (Nelson) Whalen. He was predeceased by his former wife, Linda Berry Soby, Scott’s mother.
A proud graduate of Natick High School (1958) and Northeastern University (1962), he began teaching at the former Coolidge Junior High School as a student teacher. He worked at the Natick Co-Op (now the site of the Natick Outdoor Store), where he made enduring friendships and fond memories. For many years he was employed at the Powers Package store, to the distress of a few would-be patrons.
He will be missed also by the scores of Kennedy Middle School students whom he taught over a 33-year-career, some of whom remain his loyal friends to this day. He shared his passion for the weather, the mysteries of nature and the environment, having established the Kennedy Weather Service at the school, and was proud to be a schoolteacher.
In retirement, he spoke at senior facilities and led residents in weather-related songs. He volunteered at the Natick Farmers Market, the formerly named Big Heart/Little Feet group, Earth Day celebration and Kids Art Walk, and wrote a MetroWest Daily News column titled, “Under the Weather for a Year.” Most recently, he compiled monthly newsletters for neighbors and other weather and nature enthusiasts with interesting facts and bits of little-known information. He spoke daily to area television meteorologists with his observations and concerns.
He will be missed in the neighborhood where he and Mary resided. He enjoyed the sounds and chalked messages on his driveway from the newly arrived children over the past decade.
He won’t soon be forgotten by Mary’s large family of sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews and many in-laws.
On the Fourth of July, he turned 83 years of age, walked his usual 3 miles with Mary and spent a rainy afternoon with dear friends and his wife. Early the next morning, he suffered a stroke from which he did not recover. He has been cared for by an army of dedicated health care workers, too many to individually express deserved appreciation.
Visiting hours will be held in the John Everett & Sons Funeral Home (4 Park Street, Natick Common) are Friday, Sept. 8, from 10 a.m.-noon, followed by a funeral service at noon. Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend. Interment will follow at Dell Park Cemetery, Natick, after which a reception is to be held at the Common Street Spiritual Center from 2-4 p.m. to celebrate the life of a proud Natick schoolteacher.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Mr. Whalen may be made to the Kennedy Middle School, 165 Mill Street, Natick, MA 01760 in support of the many youth programs in honor of his love of teaching.
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