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Remembering Kay Oldenburg

Friday, August 16, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Cathy Harrington
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              The Oley Foundation sadly announces the passing of Kay Oldenburg, from Baldwinsville, New York, on May 5, 2019. Kay and her husband, Clarence “Oley” Oldenburg, who co-founded the Oley Foundation with Dr. Lyn Howard in 1983, were great supporters of the foundation.

 

               Kay and Clarence served as Oley Foundation Regional Coordinators (now our Ambassador program) for many years. They held their first support group get-together in the Syracuse, New York, area in 1989. Their objectives were “to relieve the feeling of isolation for PEN people; to exchange ideas and experiences; to answer questions about living on a PEN program; to make new friends who understand the PEN lifestyle.” These remain core to Oley’s goals today.

 

               Learning of Kay’s passing, Dr. Howard notes, “This feels like the end of an era with both Oley and Kay gone. I have terrific memories of how the Oldenburg family got us started, and frequently made the long drive from Syracuse to Albany to cheer us on. The Oley Foundation has steadily grown to over 20,000 participants so the Oldenburg family has made an enormous contribution and we will always be incredibly grateful for the Oldenburg startup funds from [Clarence’s brother] Bill.”

 

               Joan Bishop, Oley Executive Director, writes, “Kay and Clarence always represented the ‘voice’ of the consumer dependent upon home nutrition support with class and dignity and will be remembered as such. We will always do our best to keep the Oldenburg family’s wishes moving forward.”

 

Celebrating Oley’s Roots

               Clarence, born in 1929, led a normal and healthy life until 1975, when a blood clot cut off circulation to his intestines. Over the course of several emergency surgeries, most of Clarence’s small intestine was removed. He spent the next five years in the hospital, “in a demoralized state of starvation” (LifelineLetter, Jan/Feb 1998).

 

               In 1980, Clarence met a nutrition support specialist and started parenteral nutrition (PN). He was able to go home on the therapy and leave the hospital for good. He was one of Dr. Howard’s patients at Albany Medical Center, Albany, New York, in the early 1980s. Clarence’s brother, Bill, convinced of the great value in bringing home nutrition support consumers—and their families—together, provided the funding to start the Oley Foundation.

 

               Meanwhile, in nearby Sharon, Massachusetts, Lee and Marshall Koonin had started the Lifeline Foundation, a support group for people on homePN, in 1978. Lee had begun homePN in 1977, and Marshall was committed to finding others on homePN, both to reduce the isolation Lee and others felt, and to help others learn about the therapy.

 

               They published a newsletter, organized picnics, and established a network of patients who were willing to talk to others. By 1984, membership had grown to about six hundred and it had become a huge commitment for the Koonins, both in terms of time and money. When they were confident that the Oley Foundation would continue the work they had begun, they turned the Lifeline Foundation over to the Oley Foundation.

 

               What began with Kay and Clarence and Lee and Marshall in the 1980s has, as Dr. Howard notes, grown to a community of over 20,000. This community and all of the information and support shared, are a beautiful legacy that we will continue to celebrate and for which we will always be grateful.


LifelineLetter, May/June 2019  


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This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.

 

Updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. 

 

This website was updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.
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