ONEONTA - Adored mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and lifelong book lover, Charlene Schjeldahl passed away in Oneonta, on Jan. 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 11 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 or 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 102 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 degree 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 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 Devonshire Estates in Lenox. In 2017, when independent living was no longer feasible, Charlene moved in with Ann and Bob in Oneonta, 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 passed away several days later in the company of her son, Peter and her dear friend, Michele.
Charlene was predeceased by her brother, Charles Edward Hanson; and cherished grandson, Jeremy Morris, who died in 2004.
Charlene's funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, 14 Grand St., 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, NY 13753.
Charlene's children acknowledge all those who lovingly cared for Grammy more than the years, particularly her granddaughter, Mary Ann; son-in-law, Bob; and everyone at 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, writing and Norwegian flatbread.
We will miss you, Grammy.
To view Charlene's memorial video and offer condolences to the family, visit www.grummonsfuneralhome.com.
Arrangements are by Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home in Oneonta.
Published on January 13, 2020