On March 29, 2023, Charles Clifford Oldenburg, known as “Chuck,” beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, a former chemical engineer who became known as Homestead Valley’s unofficial historian, died peacefully at the age of 94, according to a recent obituary.
Oldenburg was born on February 1, 1929, in Blue Island, Illinois, the first son of Clifford and Winifred Oldenburg. Chuck grew up in Chicago and Boston. He earned degrees in chemical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology (BS, 1950), Purdue University (MS, 1951), and the University of Texas (Ph.D., 1957).
Chuck married Christina Rosenquist in Texas in 1953. In 1957, they moved to Lucas Valley, and have lived in Homestead Valley (an unincorporated area of Mill Valley) since 1963.
Chuck spent most of his working career at Chevron, first as a research engineer, then as a business and economic analyst, and, from 1976 until his retirement in 1986, as General Manager of Chevron’s Computer Services Department.
Ever the Mr. Fixit, Chuck remodeled and maintained the old home they bought in Homestead Valley for nearly 60 years. In 1967, Chuck converted an old postal truck into a camper that the family used for vacations across the US, Canada, and Mexico.
Upon moving to Homestead Valley in 1963, both Chuck and Christina became active members of their community. They volunteered their time to the Candlelight Concerts at Brown’s Hall and the Mozart Festival in Stolte Grove, work that they continued to do for many years.
Chuck’s seemingly tireless volunteering also included serving on numerous community boards such as the Homestead Valley Community Association (HVCA), the Homestead Valley Land Trust (HVLT), County Services Area #14 (CSA 14), the Homestead Valley Sanitary District Board, and the Flood Zone 3 Advisory Committee. As a member of these boards, Chuck led by example in promoting community involvement, and was instrumental in preserving the character of Homestead Valley for future generations. For example, exactly fifty years ago this year, Chuck helped pass the Bond Issue that paid for the house and property now occupied by the Homestead Valley Community Center, over 85 acres of open space, and the public parks comprising Stolte Grove and Three Groves.
Chuck is perhaps best known for his prolific writing on Mill Valley history and work as Homestead’s unofficial historian. In 1999, he accepted an invitation to give a talk on the history of Homestead Valley for the Mill Valley Historical Society (MVHS). So began a new passion. For over twenty years, Chuck researched, wrote, and lectured extensively on the history of Mill Valley and Homestead Valley. Most notable, perhaps, are his “vignettes” – short descriptions of specific fragments of history – that appeared every two weeks in the MVHS newsletter, with reprints still being sent out weekly to MHVS members by email. These vignettes and history chronicles, totaling over 381 in number, were collected in three volumes published by the MVHS, and are archived on the MVHS website, mvhistory.org.
In addition to Christina, his wife of 70 years, Chuck is survived by his sons Carl Oldenburg (Mary) of Oakland, Christopher Oldenburg (Chantal) of New York City, and Curtis Oldenburg (Joan) of Mill Valley, grandchildren Catherine “Catie” Oldenburg (Taras) of Oakland, Ian Oldenburg (Sarah), of Bridgewater, New Jersey, and Nathaniel Oldenburg of New York City, and great-granddaughter Zoé Oldenburg of Bridgewater.
A memorial service will be held outdoors on Sunday, June 4, 2023, from 2-5 PM, at the Homestead Valley Community Center (315 Montford Avenue). An indoor-outdoor reception will follow.