Dutton Ridgway Alden, Jr.

Dutton Ridgway Alden, Jr.

Died April 9, 1988

Dutton Alden – Skip to his family – “lived his life with joy and laughter,” his sister, Ann Ware, says. “Skip was the one everyone couldn’t wait to see, often all of us standing around the piano singing while he played.” Her two children called him “the best uncle ever.”

Skip was one of those guys who did the Sunday Times crossword puzzle in ink and “wrote fabulous love letters every day . . . and read the poetry of T.S. Eliot to me,” according to his childhood sweetheart, Dianne Russell. “He also was an excellent jazz pianist as a teenager and seemed able to pick up virtually any instrument and play it.” Skip was also one of those guys who applied to only one school – Yale.

After majoring in electrical engineering and playing baritone sax in the Yale Band, Skip earned a master’s in business at the University of Virginia where he met his wife, Jane Tomlin. They were married in 1969 and by the next year were expecting a baby, whom they nicknamed “M.” Dianne Russell, who kept in touch with Skip after college, says that “was the happiest I saw him post-Yale. . . Skip’s eyes sparkled with anticipation when he talked about the baby, and everyone knew that he would be a devoted father.” But the baby, a girl, was born prematurely and lived for only a few hours. Skip and Jane moved to New Hampshire where he worked for the Kollsman Instruments Co., a manufacturer of flight instruments, and played the organ for his church. In the summer, they would go back to his family’s home on Cape Cod and sail his 50-foot boat, the Suzanne (named after the Judy Collins song written by Leonard Cohen). In the mid-1980s, they both quit their jobs, took a year off and sailed to the Caribbean.

Then Skip was struck by a lymphatic cancer which his sister says “came out of nowhere.” He died on April 9, 1988 at the age of 45. “In the end,” says Dianne Russell, “his family and close friends see him as a fantastic, deeply loyal and loving human being whose enormous intellectual capacity and natural talent was never fully tapped. . . He was a compelling figure that no one who knew him will ever forget.”