Charles Joseph Northshield Jr., a revered former teacher at Rye High School and dedicated community volunteer, died April 26, 2021. He was 74.
Born in New York City on October 20, 1946, he spent most of his childhood on Long Island, graduating from Walt Whitman High School in Huntington. Soon after earning an undergraduate degree from St. John’s University, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and proudly attained the rank of Sergeant while serving in Vietnam. Upon his return to the States, he received an M.A. degree from New York University, a certification to teach Industrial Arts from SUNY Oswego and certification to teach Art from the College of New Rochelle.
In 1973, he married Liz Vitanza of Brooklyn and they moved to Rye the following year. Mr. Northshield taught at Rye High from 1974 until his retirement in 2007. He taught so many subjects — woodshop, ceramics, metal, art, architectural drawing, computer-aided design, mechanical drawing, and driver’s ed — that most students took at least one class from him over the decades. He loved his job, the students, and his colleagues. He touched the lives of countless students and their parents. His enthusiasm for teaching was evident in the time he spent at the school, always early to arrive and late to leave.
A volunteer through and through, he served on the board of the YMCA, was a longtime member of the Friends of Rye Town Park, where he was instrumental in the installation of the duck feeding machine, was an active member of the Rye Storytellers Guild at the Rye Free Reading Room, a member of the Port Chester VFW, and was involved with Boy Scout Troop 2 when his son was a Scout.
Charlie Northshield treated every day as a gift to be opened and enjoyed. He always said that there were not enough hours in the day for all he wanted to accomplish, but he gave it his best effort.
“He was one of the happiest people on this planet, said his family, and his retirement was the icing on the cake because it opened a whole new chapter in his life — he went back to school, this time on the other side of the desk.” He attended classes to obtain a Master Gardener Certification, as well as an Advanced Certification.
He never gave up on his love of building things. All you had to do was mention a project and down he went to his basement workshop and an hour or two later he returned with one, two, and often three of whatever you had mentioned.
For Mr. Northshield, there was nothing more important than time spent with his family, especially his three granddaughters, who were the light of his life. Telling jokes, helping them build bird houses, doing Suduko puzzles, playing cards, anything they wanted to do was what he could be found doing. He often remarked that one of his biggest wishes was to dance at their weddings.
In addition to his wife of nearly 48 years, Liz Northshield, he is survived by his daughter Sarah (Steve) Hamilton of Garnerville, his son Andrew (Bryn) Northshield of North Salem, and his granddaughters, Mirabelle Teddy, Hazel Page, and Juniper Bee. All are blessed with amazing memories of a man who lived a charmed life and shared it generously.
Charlie Northshield was a lifelong blood donor, and his family encourages everyone to make a donation in his name. Donations may also be made in his memory to the Friends of Rye Town Park, P.O. Box 345, Rye, NY 10580.
A celebration of Charlie’s wonderful life will be held in the future.