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Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home

14 Grand Street, Oneonta, NY

OBITUARY

Charlene Schjeldahl

June 27, 1917January 9, 2020
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Adored mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and lifelong book lover Charlene Schjeldahl died in Oneonta, New York, on January 9, 2020, at the age of 102.

Charlene is survived by five children: Peter, Ann, Peggy, Don and Mary; five grandchildren: Mary Ann, Jessica, Ada, Anna, and Caleb; and eleven great-grandchildren: Olivia, Andrew Blake, Ryleigh, Cameron, Eamon, Griffin, Oliver, Sam, Lily, Laney, and Cole.

All remember “Grammy” as an enthusiastic reader and crossword puzzle-solver. With a sharp sense of humor, Charlene loved to be the center of attention, whether recounting family stories, competing in Scrabble and Bridge. An intrepid genealogist, she loved visiting her ancestral homeland of Norway and, once travel was no longer an option, reading Norwegian novels and travel guides.

In June, a reporter from The Daily Star attended Charlene’s 102nd birthday party hosted by Hampshire House, where a local musician played Elvis Presley songs and she was presented with 102 red roses, as well as helium balloons and a strawberry cake. On that occasion, she said the secret to her longevity was her love of writing and reading. “Reading is the secret,” she said. “The world is your oyster. When you read, you get to go any place you want to…What could be worse than leaving a book unfinished? Unless there’s something to read in the afterlife.”

Mary Charlene Hanson was born on June 27, 1917 to Charles Hanson and Lena Lium in Whapeton, North Dakota. She graduated from University of North Dakota in 1938 with a major in journalism. She worked as a stenographer before meeting Gilmore T. “Shelly” Schjeldahl, who would soon go on to serve with distinction in World War II. The two were married for 61 years, from 1940 until his death in 2002. She was devoted to his care both at home and at work, serving as an office manager in the G.T. Schjeldahl Company, which was known for its work on Echo I, NASA’s first communications satellite, and for the invention of the air sickness bag.

In 2001, when Shelly’s health was failing, Shelly and Charlene moved from Minneapolis to Massachusetts to be close to their daughters Peggy and Mary. After Shelly’s passing in 2002 Charlene stayed on at the Devonshire Estates in Lenox. In 2017, when independent living was no longer feasible, Charlene moved in with Ann and Bob in Oneonta, New York, where she lived for over a year. She then moved to Oneonta’s Hampshire House, where she developed close friendships and became the resident pianist. She lived there for a year and a half until a fall required round-the-clock care. She then moved back into Ann and Bob’s home, where she died several days later in the company of her son Peter and her dear friend Michele.

Charlene was preceded in death by her brother, Charles Edward Hanson, and by her cherished grandson Jeremy Morris, who died in 2004.

Charlene’s funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, 14 Grand Street, Oneonta, with two hours of visitation beforehand.

Rather than customary condolences, the family requests that donations be made to the Jeremy Morris Scholarship Fund, College Advancement, SUNY Delhi, 454 Delhi Drive, Delhi, New York 13753.

Charlene’s children would like to acknowledge all those who lovingly cared for Grammy over the years, particularly her granddaughter Mary Ann, her son-in-law Bob, and everyone at the Devonshire and Hampshire House. The family is consoled in sorrow by the knowledge that Charlene’s life was very long and very happy, and that she leaves behind a large family—many of whom, thanks to her, love reading and writing and Norwegian flatbread. We will miss you, Grammy.

To view Charlene’s memorial video and offer condolences to the family, please visit: www.grummonsfuneralhome.com.

Arrangements are by the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, Oneonta.

Services

  • Calling Hours Saturday, January 18, 2020
  • Memorial Service Saturday, January 18, 2020

Memories

Charlene Schjeldahl

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Jane Shiyah

February 9, 2020

How lucky I was that my mother and Charlene became friends at Devonshire, because I soon became Charlene’s friend too!
She always made me laugh. I am so grateful to have known her. May her memory be a blessing for all who loved her.

Elizabeth Ciner

January 18, 2020

The Margaret Evans Huntington Book Club (founded by Carleton College dean of women Margaret Evans in 1876 and in continuous existence since then) mourns the loss of its long-time member, Charlene Schjeldahl. Charlene was active in the 32-person club for many years, serving on the program selection committee for 1969-70 (Minnesota was the theme that year) and 1976 -77 (William and Henry James) and as secretary treasurer from 1978-80. Almost every year from 1973 to 1989, Charlene volunteered to prepare and present a paper on one of the year's books - on subjects as diverse as Cultures in Conflict, Reflections on the 14th Century, the Mystery of Leadership, and the Modern Japanese Novel. Current members remember Charlene's papers as well researched and original; she may have been the first club member to reach out to living authors. When not presenting she was also an active and lively discussant. We are grateful that Charlene continued to be part of the club even after moving from Farmington and that she continued to correspond with us when she moved out east. Charlene's reflections on our readings were read at our meetings for as long as she sent them! Our sincere condolences to her family.

Pamela Faulkner

January 18, 2020

Charlene was sweetest of the sweet. She always had a beautiful smile on her face. She loved playing the piano. During mealtime she would ask for butter to put on her bread...Sometimes she didn't have to ask... I just knew. Charlene loved her hot tea too. She loved to read and would ask me to place her blankets a certain way when it was time to go to bed. Charlene was a beautiful lady and we all were blessed to have known and care for her.

Sleep with the angels Charlene....until we meet again

Judy Pieschel

January 16, 2020

Charlene, you move on with all of us floating with you, still sharing in your laughter, your smile, your jokes, your 'wise-dom', and all the other wonderful things you gave to us. May these tears keep your spirit fresh as you travel on. And to all of your family, thanks for all the care you have given and the generosity of sharing Charlene with us for so long. Much love.

Mary Ann Geraghty

January 15, 2020

Grammy with Olivia and Eamon

Mary Ann Geraghty

January 15, 2020

Celebrating with Grammy on her 102nd birthday.

Thomas Rossing

January 15, 2020

It was a great privilege living next to the Schjeldahl family in Northfield! I have many fond memories of Charlene and the rest of you.
I now live in a retirement community in Mountain View, California.

Carol Bigwood

January 14, 2020

My condolences to charlenes family I loved her so much she was so special I was so pleased to be her housekeeper when she lived at Devonshire estates. I have wonderful memories of her that will stay with me forever. Your mom was the best. Carol bigwood

Karen Rossing Grandall

January 14, 2020

We enjoyed being neighbors. We played in their playhouse. Peggy babysat the four and later five of us. Mom(Dorothy) remembers having coffee with Charlene occasionally as they both had five children with the two youngest both named Mary. When I first moved to North Dakota, she gave me a year's subscription to ND Horizons magazine in honor of her North Dakota roots.

Judy Rufo

January 14, 2020

Dear Charlene's family,
May all your happiest memories bring you peace. Such a lovely lady and inspiration to all. So sorry😘

FROM THE FAMILY

On honeymoon 1940

FROM THE FAMILY

With Brooke

FROM THE FAMILY

With Don & Ann

FROM THE FAMILY

Grammy & Mary Ann

FROM THE FAMILY

Pip & Grammy

FROM THE FAMILY

With Steve

FROM THE FAMILY

With best friend, Virginia

FROM THE FAMILY

4 Generations 1995

FROM THE FAMILY

50th Wedding Anniversary 10-5-90

FROM THE FAMILY

Ann, Mary Ann, Grammy 1969