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Charlotte Lavae Schlender

10 December, 2005 by troy glidden

Mrs. Charlotte Lavae Schlender, age 81, of McPherson, KS, passed away at 10:15 AM, Saturday, December 10th, 2005 at Cedars Health Care Center, McPherson, Kansas.

Charlotte Lavae Schlender
November 8, 1924 – December 10, 2005

Charlotte Lavae Schlender was born on a farm near Haviland, Kansas, the second of four children of Irvin G. and Mazie Williams Ross. A smart and precocious child, Charlotte was also quite musical, playing flute and piano and winning awards in state music competitions while attending high school in Haviland. And very early on she developed a love for literature, a passion that only deepened over the years as she became a teacher and author herself.

An independent and spirited young woman, Charlotte attended Friends University in Wichita, graduating with degrees in Home Economics and English Literature in 1947. While at Friends, she was elected president of the Iota Theta Mu public service sorority, which sent charity packages to the needy in war-ravaged Europe. She also participated in vocal groups and performed in musical revues, and was the piano accompanist to many vocal soloists. She had always loved the classroom, and her broad experiences in college prepared her well to become an exemplary teacher. Indeed, it was a profession to which she would devote most of the next 30 years of her life.

Charlotte’s teaching career started in the fall of 1947 when she accepted a position teaching home economics in Moundridge, Kansas. There that following spring, a fellow teacher introduced her to her brother-in-law, who was the son of a local farmer and who had recently returned from a stint in the Navy. His name was Harold Glenn Schlender, and they fell in love. He was charmed by her radiant smile and soft-spoken self-assurance, and she was drawn by his gentle manner and steadfast devotion to her. They married on June 7, 1949.

After two years as a Kansas farm couple, Harold was drafted back into the Navy and they packed up and moved to Vallejo, California. There Charlotte gave birth to son Greg who was the first of her three children. (Brent would be born in 1954, followed by Debbie in 1959.) The young family returned to Kansas in late 1952, where Charlotte helped Harold set up a chicken and egg operation on his parents’ farm. Then, in 1956, the young family, now numbering four, moved to McPherson, where Harold entered the construction business and Charlotte enrolled in McPherson College to earn her state certificate to teach English Literature. In 1958, she resumed her teaching career taking a position at Inman High School. And after a one-year hiatus to give birth to Debbie, she returned to the classroom at McPherson Junior High School, where she would teach for the next 20 years

Charlotte approached motherhood with the same dedication and zeal and self-sacrifice that she brought to teaching. Despite working full-time, she chauffeured all three children to out-of-town music lessons each week, cooked dinner every evening, did all the shopping, supervised homework, and, as the children reached adolescence, taught each of them how to drive a car by letting them take the wheel on shopping trips to Wichita and Hutchinson. Along the way, she instilled in each of them an appreciation of the fine arts, and deep a respect for education.

Meanwhile Charlotte also became something of a globetrotter, planning family trips not only all over the United States but to Canada, Mexico, and Europe. And later, after her children were away at college, she orchestrated trips – some with Harold and others with relatives or friends – to Greece and Turkey, India, and Hong Kong and China.

Charlotte finally retired from the classroom in 1980, but she wasn’t finished with teaching. Indeed, she was able to combine nearly all of the major interests in her life – teaching, world travel, language studies, and mothering – when she took on the challenge of helping Vietnamese immigrant children and their parents to learn English. Her five years teaching English as a Second Language – or ESL – turned out to be one of the most satisfying times of her life, both professionally and personally, as she selflessly and enthusiastically made it possible for several young immigrants (and in some cases their parents) not only to graduate from high school, but to truly acclimate to American life. She took particular interest in one especially bright young teenager named Thinh Pham, who she took into her home, and ultimately supported as he went on to earn his engineering degree at Kansas State University in 1987.

During the final decade, Charlotte’s life took on yet another dimension as she became a published author. During the 1990s she wrote two books – a collection of short fiction stories called On the Wings of Pegasus, and a book of essays and tributes to important people in her life called The Melodies of Life. She attended writing conferences in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Utah, and Nebraska, and was a member of the Kansas Authors’ Club and several other writers’ organizations. Charlotte was outlining in her mind what would have been a third book when Alzheimer’s Disease began to take its toll in 2001.

Charlotte is survived by Harold, her beloved husband of 56 years. Other survivors include: two sons, Greg Schlender, Boulder, Colo., and Brent Schlender, Santa Fe, N.M.; a daughter, Debbie Way, Boulder, Colo.; a sister, Nonie Littlefield, Haviland; two brothers, Milton Ross, Haviland, and Ronald Ross, Sarasota Florida; and four grandchildren.

Friends are invited to call Thursday 4 PM to 8 PM with family present to receive friends from 7 PM to 8 PM at Glidden - Ediger Chapel, McPherson, Kansas.

The memorial service will be at First United Methodist Church, McPherson, KS. at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, December 16th, with Reverends Harold Nelson and Karen Rice-Ratzlaff officiating.

Private family burial will precede the memorial service McPherson Cemetery McPherson, KS.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to McPherson Opera House or Cedars Health Care Center or First United Methodist Church, in care of the Glidden - Ediger Funeral Home; 222 West Euclid Street; McPherson, Kansas 67460.

Posted By Jason Smith on 14 December, 2005
Harold & Family,

I just want to convey my condolences to all of you at this time. I had her for a teacher in 1978 and have always had a great respect her.

Jason Smith
(Larry & Priscilla's son)

Posted By Eldred Kingery on 12 December, 2005
Sorry to hear of your loss. I pray that God will comfort you in your loss.
Eldred Kingery
Des Moines, Iowa

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