Karen Anderson—A Search Study

From our 1954 yearbook. Anderson is second from the left.

From our 1954 yearbook. Anderson is second from the left.

Karen Anderson, two years behind us, was arguably Lansdowne-Aldan’s most famous alumna. (I am not implying fame is a measure of life’s success. It is just a fact like any other.) She became famous as a javelin thrower first in the 1955 Pan Am Games, then in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics. I often had to assure people she was not what they assumed—a muscle-bound, one-dimensional, aggressively-focused female jock. On the contrary, she was petite, pretty and charming, naturally blond with a beautiful smile and well-liked by everyone.  The story I had heard was that she was watching the boys track team practice with the javelin one day, picked it up herself, threw it, and their jaws dropped open.  So did their coach’s jaw.  The rest is history.

I had mentioned her in a previous posting, 8/9/20o7, so, just for fun, I searched Google for what more I could find on her—and to learn how much can easily be found on the Internet on almost anyone in less than an hour without even leaving the house.

First off, I could find no obituary on her, so I assume she is still living. I discovered her full name is Karen Linnea Anderson (her middle name became important near the end of the search), and she was born in Denver, CO, on April 5,1938. After high school, she went on to The University of Pennsylvania where she met (on a blind date) and soon married Ned Oldham, who had a career as a patent lawyer. (I have worked with several patent lawyers, and I have great respect for their patience and tenacity.) They moved to Akron, OH, where she actively worked with developmentally disabled children and became an elder at the First Presbyterian Church of Akron. (My mother was also a Presbyterian elder, and very proud of it.) They raised four sons: Jeff, Scott, Mark and Eric.

Ned was also a gifted athlete and a leader, a graduate of the Naval Academy where he had been captain of the football team that won the Cotton Bowl in 1958 (20–7 over Rice).

She became a champion golfer in later life. She had taken up golf 1n 1955, about the same time she took up the javelin, but she concentrated on the more physically challenging javelin while she was still young.  Later, she made the switch to golf.  She was on the US team that won the 1996 Senior Women’s International Team Golf Championships in Belgium.

Ned died in Naples, FL, in 2011 of complications from Parkinson’s, and my hunch was she may still be living in the area. People move to Naples  as they age, not away from it. (About ten years ago, I discovered our own classmate Dotty Dreyer Irgang living there, just a few houses away from friends we were visiting.  Small world.)

I found a listing for Karen L. Oldham, 78, at 400 Park Shore Dr., Apt 200, Naples, FL 34103, phone (239) 434-0806, that is almost certainly the same girl we knew as Karen Anderson. The age and name match, and Akron is listed as a previous residence.  Someone who knows her better than me could give her a call to nail it down for sure. (If any of you are concerned about her privacy, she never seemed to be the type to attract enemies, and anyone could find this same information quicker than we used to find someone’s name in the white pages.  Besides, bad guys don’t read this blog.)

When someone dies, the published obituary can usually be easily found, and these give many more details. But, we usually want to know these details before the person dies. Obituaries would be best published while we are still alive—old, but alive, I kid you not.

(This search was not all the fun I expected.  I was left with a gnawing sadness thinking of the inevitable decline and end of such a full life.  The fuller the life, the sadder the decline. Perhaps I was reminded of my own end.)

RWalck@Verizon.net

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About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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