Chip Van Nattan, an educator, artist, husband, father and active member of the Mammoth community, died on March 25. He was 83.
Born in Hollywood on March 17, 1932, Van Nattan grew up in El Monte. Raised by a single mother, they moved constantly during his youth. According to Caren, his wife of 37 years, he attended more than twenty schools between kindergarten and 8th grade.
He first visited Mammoth in 1946 at the age of 14. He convinced his grandparents to bring him here for two weeks. His ulterior motive: his girlfriend’s family owned the Woods Lodge at Lake George.
After the two weeks were up, Van Nattan refused to get in the car to go home.
He apparently slept in a crawl space under the Woods Lodge until his girlfriend’s family, deciding this wasn’t the best option, helped him get work at Tamarack Lodge as a fill-in employee for those on days off.
During his time in the Navy, he purchased his first piece of property in Mammoth—a parcel at the corner of what is now essentially Minaret and Forest Trail.
He resigned from a management job at the telephone company in 1960 to pursue his dream of becoming a ski lodge owner in Mammoth.
When Bank of America wouldn’t loan him the money to build a lodge on his lot, he bought the Edelweiss Lodge instead from Bob Schotz.
In Mammoth, Van Nattan not only operated the lodge, but worked as a teacher and administrator. He was also active civically, serving 15 years on the hospital board (including two stints as Chairman). He also served as the local Chamber of Commerce president.
He had many other passions, among them painting, fishing, hiking and golf. He earned a brown belt in karate. He and his wife Caren enjoyed volksmarching (non-competitive distance walking) together.
Van Nattan’s paintings were displayed at many local art shows and galleries. He was an oil painter who painted using knives.
In addition to his own children, Van Nattan gained four children from his marriage to Caren: Jim Prentice, Ron Prentice, Sue Meloni and Kim Prentice.
Both Van Nattan’s daughter Susan and step-daughter Kim preceded him in death.
He is survived by the five children from his blended family, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Chip and Caren met in Mammoth. At the time, both were employed by the school district, both served as 4-H leaders and their children knew each other.
Upon their retirement in 1989, Chip and Caren moved to Cayucos, Calif., while maintaining a summer cabin on Lake Mary. As was his nature, Chip was active in the Cayucos community, serving as a charter member of the Cayucos Art Assn. He was also active in the Cayucos Lions Club.
A celebration of life will be held in Mammoth on August 8 at the Sauser residence on Manzanita. It’ll be a potluck/BBQ starting at 4 p.m.