David Lansdale, 93, retired executive, adventurer

David Lansdale, 93, a retired Scott Paper Co. executive, owner of a holly orchard, and an adventurer, died of a stroke Thursday, Sept. 23, at Crosslands Retirement Community in Kennett Square.

Growing up in Los Angeles, Mr. Lansdale sold magazines door to door on roller skates. He took up skating again when his children gave him in-line skates for his 80th birthday.

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Mr. Lansdale went to work for Scott Paper after earning a bachelor's degree in engineering from the University of Michigan. During World War II, he was a flight test engineer for Lockheed Martin in Baltimore.

After the war, he returned to Scott and joined the company's flying club. He was a purchasing agent, personnel manager, and director of packaging for Scott when he retired in 1980.

He then began a career growing holly trees on his 15-acre property in Middletown Township. He was past president of the National Holly Society. A son, Douglas, now operates Holly Grove, which sells trees and supplies cuttings to nurseries at Christmas. In 1994, Mr. Lansdale donated 4.6 acres to Indian Orchard Park in Middletown Township.

He and his first wife, Virginia Tomlinson Lansdale, raised five children in Middletown Township, where he was a Boy Scout leader and PTA president. He helped establish the Middletown Library and was a member of Media Friends Meeting. He and his family camped in 36 states, daughter Ginger Brodie said, and he and Virginia once hiked from Pennsylvania to Florida.

He was devastated when Virginia died in 1983, his daughter said, but he then made out a list of risky activities he could do without worrying a wife. He renewed his pilot's license, and in 1984, he sailed with Marvin Creamer from the Falkland Islands to New Jersey. The trip was the last leg of Creamer's around-the-world journey.

In 1985, Mr. Lansdale married Sally Boote. They enjoyed wintering in Naples, Fla., for 20 years. The couple moved to Crosslands in 1990, where he headed the Nature Conservancy Committee.

His daughter said his slogan was the song lyric, "I want to be happy, but I won't be happy till I make you happy, too."

In addition to his daughter and son, Mr. Lansdale is survived by daughters Judy Roberson and Nancy Polikoff; son John; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Sally Boote Lansdale died in 2008.

A memorial gathering in the Quaker tradition will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Crosslands Community Center, 1660 E. Street Rd., Kennett Square. Friends may call from 10:30.


Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.