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Caroline Oberndorf

September 6, 1934 — May 17, 2023

Shaker Heights

Caroline Oberndorf

Caroline Gleason Oberndorf passed away peacefully on May 17, 2023, at the age of 88. 

She is survived by her loving husband, Ed Oberndorf to whom she was married for 65 years. She was the dedicated and loving mother of Charles (April), Michael (Connie), and Robert Oberndorf. She was known as Nonnie, the adoring grandmother of Andrew, Michelle, David, and Christy. She was the dear sister of David Gleason. She was the delightful Aunt Caroline to her three nephews, Walter, William, and Robert, and her four nieces, Mary Louise, Christine, Jennifer, and Caroline.

Caroline graduated from Laurel School (1952), attended Bradford Junior College, and completed her junior and senior years at Wellesley College (1956). After graduation, she returned to Laurel where she taught nursery school and kindergarten. She later served as Vice President of the Laurel Alumnae Board and President of the Wellesley Club of Cleveland. In October of 1958, she married Ed Oberndorf and lived a devoted and loving life together for 65 years. 

Caroline inherited from her parents a legacy of community involvement and over the course of her life served on 17 boards.  At the age of 16 she volunteered in the children’s department of the Cleveland Society of the Blind (now the Cleveland Sight Center) where her father, the late Charles B. Gleason, was president from 1928 to 1934. She spent numerous hours of her youth at the Center and stayed involved the rest of her life, becoming a lifetime trustee in her later years.

From her mother, the late Mary Louise Vail, Caroline learned a love of art and later served as a trustee on the boards of the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Cleveland Arts Foundation. She served as President of the Print Club of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

During an interview for the Cleveland Sight Center, Caroline said, “You aren’t going to get the full gratification of life if you don’t get involved with your community. It will enrich your soul.”

Her summers were highlighted by the family’s annual summer visit to Omena, Michigan, where they have a cottage on Grand Traverse Bay. Her first introduction to Omena was at the age of ten when the Gleasons joined a relative for the summer.  Caroline developed many close friendships over those many years. Like every other place she frequented, she was dearly loved. A friend of 75 years from Omena texted this about Caroline: “She was a lover of the arts, community therapist, and a hoot on cottage porch!  Generally, anyone who came in contact with her always hoped that some of her spirited grace would follow them.” 

Caroline radiated warmth, caring, and love. In a recent letter of sympathy, a friend wrote, “She was truly a great lady, a force of nature, one of a kind, witty, smart, and loads of laughs and fun.”

A celebration of Caroline’s life will be held at Fairmount Presbyterian Church on Monday, June 26 at 2PM. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the following organizations:

Cleveland Institute of Art

Cleveland Sight Center

EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute

In memory of Caroline Oberndorf, please consider making a donation to one of the following charities:

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Monday, June 26, 2023

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

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