Carolyn Jane Ottinger Kovener
July 30, 1930 – September 12, 2018
Carolyn Jane Ottinger Kovener died on September 12, 2018 following a lengthy bout with Alzheimer’s. She died in the Meadowood Health Pavilion where she was transferred a few hours prior to her death from the Meadowood independent living unit she shared with her husband of 58 years, Ronald Kovener. She was the daughter of Quincy Austin (QA) and Lucille Ottinger, born on July 30, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois. Following graduation from Iowa Wesleyan University in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, she launched her extensive career in food with her high school employer, Marshall Field’s. At Field’s, she was a manager in their Walnut Room at their State Street store and their Cloud Room at Midway Airport followed by opening their restaurants in their first suburban store, Old Orchard. Her stint at Kraft Foods followed where she did product quality control testing, recipe development, product photography, and preparing the cheese commercials for the Perry Como Kraft Music Hall TV show.
She met Ronald Kovener at the Northminster Group at Fourth Presbyterian Church on Chicago’s Michigan Ave. They were married at her home church, First United Methodist Church of Park Ridge Illinois on June 11, 1960.
Soon after marriage, she worked for Stokley-Van Camp in Indianapolis doing recipe development, product photography, and consumer contact. In Minneapolis she was part of the staff that wrote the first Pillsbury Family Cookbook. The outdoor cooking chapter was done in her front yard on the shore of Lake Minnetonka. She also did applicant screening for the Pillsbury Bake Off contest, adapting winning recipes for general use, and worked on the annual book of top recipes. She also did free-lance work for General Mills and other Minneapolis based food companies.
Daughters Marti Kovener and Lisa Kovener joined the family in Minneapolis; both now live in the Denver, Colorado area. Raising daughters was interspersed with introducing Amana micro-wave ovens in both Cincinnati and Washington, DC. In Cincinnati, she was also a corporate executive chef . During her time in DC, she also wrote a fund-raising cookbook for her sorority, Pi Beta Phi and one for the historic Oatlands mansion. When she and Ron retired to Bloomington, she researched and prepared historic recipes for Wylie House. She has enjoyed every connection, person, recipe, and taste she has encountered in these varied career experiences.
She has been very involved with women’s philanthropic organizations PEO and TTT wherever she has lived. She has been similarly involved with local alumni clubs of her collegiate sorority, Pi Beta Phi in all the communities where she has lived. With Pi Beta Phi, she served on the board of the sorority’s national philanthropy in Gatlinburg, Tennessee for four years and was instrumental in renaming the organization Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. She also served four years on the board of Holt House, the founding home of Pi Beta Phi in Monmouth, Illinois; it is now a house museum. Carolyn received the national Evelyn Peters Kyle Award and the regional Emma Harper Turner Award from Pi Beta Phi.
In Bloomington, Carolyn did volunteer work for the Red Cross and First United Methodist Church, was president of the Argonaut Club, served on the board of the Theatre Circle and as chairman of the “Meet the Playwrights” events, and many roles for the University Club.
Carolyn, with her husband lived in several places during their marriage and traveled extensively throughout the U.S. including Hawaii and Alaska and throughout Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The two kicked off their marriage with a five-week trip to Europe on their first anniversary and bought furniture in Copenhagen that they enjoyed throughout their married lives.
Carolyn is survived by her sister, Marth Ottinger of Colorado Springs, Colorado, her husband Ronald, daughter Marti Kovener of Denver, Colorado, and daughter Lisa Kovener and granddaughter Zoe Kovener Bray of Lafayette, Colorado
In lieu of flowers for Carolyn, we are suggesting memorial contributions to
Iowa Wesleyan University: 601 N Main St, Mt Pleasant, IA 52641
Cottey College (a philanthropy of PEO): 1000 W Austin Blvd, Nevada, MO 64772
Alzheimer’s Association: 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601
Celebration of Life
Meadowood Retirement Community
2455 N Tamarack Trail