LESLIE M. OLDT, 107
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WINTER HAVEN - Leslie M. Oldt, a Winter Haven educator and community leader, died Tuesday, January 8, 2013 of congestive heart failure. He was 107.
Born in Naperville, Illinois on June 4, 1905, Mr. Oldt grew up primarily in Michigan, where his father pastored Methodist Churches; he spent part of his teen years in Daytona Beach, Florida in the 1920s during one of his father's sabbaticals. Mr. Oldt received his bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and his master's degree from Michigan State University.
In the summer of 1938 he married Ethel Mae "Pat" Roe of Denver. Having saved every penny during their long engagement, the pair sailed third-class to Europe, honeymooned in Paris, toured Germany on the eve of war and returned home broke. Theirs was a happy union, lasting nearly seven decades until Mrs. Oldt's death in 2007 at the age of 94.
Declared ineligible for military service because of a heart murmur, during World War II Mr. Oldt drove munitions trucks for Dow Chemical. After the war, he moved his family to Winter Haven to be near his parents, first teaching high school and then spending a period of time as a stockbroker with Investors Diversified Services and Bache & Co.
Returning to education, he worked with his closest friend, Maynard Traviss, to establish the vocational school now known as Traviss Career Center. It was Mr. Oldt's job to find employment for its graduates, a task that brought him immense satisfaction.
During his working years, Mr. Oldt was active in many community affairs - serving as president of United Way, Red Cross, Boys Club and Kiwanis as well as co-organizing the Community Concert Association, acting in the Little Theater, singing in the choir of First Presbyterian Church and serving as church elder and assistant superintendent of the church's Sunday school.
Upon retirement in 1973 Mr. and Mrs. Oldt summered in North Carolina, where he found great pleasure in building, gardening, hiking, reading and serving as community association president.
Recognizing his extensive community service, the Winter Haven City Commission declared June 4, 2010 to be "Leslie M. Oldt Day" and presented him a key to the city. In 2011, as the city's oldest citizen, he rode as grand marshal during the city's centennial parade.
He was featured in the recently published book "100: The Wisdom of America's Centenarians" and took part in separate longevity studies conducted by Harvard University and the Boston Medical Center, which explored both the DNA and lucidity of super-centenarians.
A gentleman of integrity and intelligence who valued his independence, Mr. Oldt is remembered by friends and family for his civility, thoughtfulness, humor and generosity as well as for his appreciation of food and joy in cooking for others, devotion to his wife, affection for Gilbert & Sullivan, exuberant love of nature, unfailingly positive attitude and vivid dream life.
Mr. Oldt was preceded in death by his older sister Esther Oldt, his twin brother Wesley Oldt and his younger brother Elliott Oldt. He is survived by his children, Janet Kotler of Atlanta and Thomas Roe Oldt of Winter Haven; grandchildren Josh and Christine Kotler of Miami and Tony Kotler of Washington DC; great-grandchildren Sarah Kotler and Jacob Kotler of Miami; nephews/nieces Bob and Virginia Oldt, David and Julie Maxson, and Kathy Kunkle, all of Michigan, Charlotte Blalock of Virginia, Bobbie Blanc, and Jack and Virginia Anderson of Colorado, and Annette Allen of California.
A memorial service will be held at 11 am on Monday, January 14, 2013 at First Presbyterian Church in Winter Haven. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Citrus Center Boys and Girls Club, 2400 Havendale Blvd. NW, Winter Haven FL, 33881.
Published in Ledger from Jan. 11 to Jan. 12, 2013