Nathan D. (Nate) Dondis of East Falmouth, died Sunday, June 9 at JML Care Center after a brief illness. He would have celebrated his 94th birthday on July 1. Nate owned the Empire Men’s Shop in Falmouth from 1962 to 1986, and before that, worked with his father and brother at the original Empire in his birthplace of Fall River. His love of retailing began with visits to his father’s store at the age of four, and retailing remained his passion throughout his life. Nate never completely retired, and until recently, worked three days a week at Mrs. Mitchell’s Gift Shop on Main Street in Hyannis.
A graduate of B.M.C. Durfee High School in Fall River and Milford Preparatory School in Connecticut, Nate joined the U. S. Navy in 1944 and became an instructor at the naval radio school in Fort Pierce, Florida until 1946. He attended Bryant College in Rhode Island but cut short his education to return to Fall River and resume work at Empire in 1947. He assumed management responsibility for the store when his father died of a heart attack at the age of 57. With his brother Eli, Nate expanded the business, opening new locations in Fall River, Falmouth, and Osterville. Many will recall being fitted for their first suit, learning to tie a tie properly, or waiting in line at 6 a.m. for Washington’s Birthday sales at Empire. And many will remember Nate’s ever-present smile, outgoing personality, and litany of jokes.
Nate was proud to serve on the boards of the Fall River Savings Bank, the Falmouth Bank and Trust, and the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce.
Nate married Edith Helen Rubin of New Bedford in 1948. He and Edie enjoyed 57 years of marriage, love, laughter and devoted friendship until her death in 2005. He and Edie worked tirelessly on behalf of many charities. They were devoted to their family and a vast circle of friends. Nate enjoyed fishing, ice skating, and woodworking.
He leaves his children, Toby Dondis Farman and husband Barry of Newton and Phyllis Dondis Ribakoff and partner José of Waltham; grandchildren Amy and Jordan Klinger, Jack and Nancy Ribakoff, and Andrew and Kira Farman; seven great-grandchildren; a sister Arlyne, brother Eli and Eli’s wife, Charlene. In addition to his beloved wife, Nate was predeceased by his parents Philip and Emma (Loeff) Dondis, and his sister Annette.
A funeral service will be held Tuesday, June 11 at 1:00 p.m. at the Falmouth Jewish Congregation, 7 Hatchville Road, East Falmouth, MA 02536. Donations in Nate’s memory may be made to the Falmouth Jewish Congregation at the above address and the Falmouth Service Center, PO Box 208, Falmouth MA 02541.