Hattye Mae Biddle

Obituary
  • "My deepest sympathies to the entire family. I'll always..."
    - Pat Mason
  • "So sorry."
    - Becky Wall
  • "And the Munch Bunch who have pre-deceased her convene again..."
    - Nancy Haas (Valeski)
  • "My heartfelt sympathy on the loss of your mom."
    - Barbara Heinzel Becker
  • "To great lady who gave so much back to her community...."

DOVER - Hattye Mae Biddle, a much-beloved figure in Delaware educational, political and civic circles, died in Dover on April 4 at the age of 96. Co-founder of The Little School, she was also a Delaware Mother of the Year, a longtime docent for the Delaware State Museums, a board member of several nonprofit organizations, and the loving wife for 79 years of Millard Biddle, who survives her. Hattye Mae met Millard behind the counter of a five-and-dime in Harrington, an encounter which inspired their favorite song, "I Met a Million-Dollar Baby at the 5&10-Cent Store." After they married, the couple established Biddle's Market, a grocery store in Dover at Division & Governor's Avenue. Following the closing of the market, Hattye Mae established The Little School in Dover, the first private pre-school and kindergarten in lower Delaware, in 1956. She sold the school to Jane Richter in 1975; it is still in operation today as The Little School at Kids Cottage. After leaving the Little School, Hattye Mae worked as a museum guide for many years in the Dover office of the State of Delaware's Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, a job which gave her the chance to share her love for Dover and her innate sense of hospitality. She also put those qualities to good use as the chair of several Dover Days celebrations, and as the operator, with Millard, of the city's first bed and breakfast, whose guests included (during his time as state treasurer) U.S. Senator Tom Carper. Both Biddles were active in Democratic politics over the years; Millard served as a Dover City Councilman and a county appraiser, and Hattye Mae volunteered for numerous campaigns. Even in the political sphere, Hattye Mae's cooking skills came in handy; her orange pound cake was a favorite of Governor Sherman Tribbett. Hattye Mae was a longtime member of People's Church in Dover, where she taught Sunday school and worked with the youth fellowship. She was also a member of Women's Fellowship and served as a deacon. She was a member of the Nursery Kindergarten Association of Delaware and a board member of the Kent-Sussex Industries. She and Millard were a familiar sight at Christmastime when they played Santa and Mrs. Claus at The Little School and The Governor's House. Named Delaware Mother of the Year in 1976, Hattye Mae had three children: Grover Allen Biddle (who died in 2006); Lawrence Joseph Biddle of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Nancy Jo Lambertson of Dover. In addition to her husband, son and daughter, Hattye Mae is survived by daughter-in-law, Connie Biddle of Dover; son-in-law, Al Lambertson; David Warner, partner of Lawrence; grandchildren, Steven Biddle and wife Linda of Phoenix, Ariz., Mark and wife Laurie of Dover, Christopher and wife Barrett of Wayland, Mass., David and wife Valerie of Chadds Ford, Pa., Angela Hunter and husband Tim of Dover, Elizabeth Gaylord and husband Terry of Cabot, Ark., Nicholas Lambertson and wife Kasey of Dover, Joshua Lambertson of Dover; and 15 great-grand-children. One grandchild, Andrew Biddle (son of Lawrence), died in 2007. A Celebration of Life service for Hattye Mae Biddle will take place April 28, 2012, at Westminster Village, Dover, from 2 to 4 p.m. Please send remembrances for a memory book, to be received by April 16, to: Larryjbiddle@me.com or to Connie Biddle, 15 South Turnberry Drive, Dover, DE 19904. In lieu of flowers, send donations to the Hattye Mae Biddle Fund benefiting Delaware's children, c/o Delaware Community Foundation, 100 West Tenth St., Wilmington, DE 19899. Letters of condolence may be sent, and guestbook signed at www.torbertfuneral.com.

Published in NewsZapDE on Apr. 10, 2012
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