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Mrs. Charlotte Ovando,RIP
Community leader, Philanthropist, Wife of Sunny Hills heart surgeon Paul Ovando, MD

Ovando, Charlotte Ann, friends and family of Charlotte Ovando, a longtime Fullerton resident and community leader, are planning to celebrate her life on Saturday, April 14, in Fullerton. Mrs. Ovando died March 9, 2007.

Mrs. Ovando was born in Rockville Center, Long Island, in 1928. She earned her degree in nursing at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and later was certified as a Registered Nurse. She was working at Lenox Hill when she met her future husband, Dr. Paul Ovando. They were married in 1952.

With her two young daughters in tow, she followed her husband to Fullerton after Dr. Ovando joined the staff of St. Jude Hospital in 1959. Dr. Ovando, a pioneering cardiothoracic surgeon in Orange County, was later chief of staff at the hospital.

Known for her wit and sense of humor, Mrs. Ovando and her husband often hosted parties for their many circles of friends and attended myriad dinners and galas. Neither was afraid of looking foolish, and they performed together at St. Jude's spoof on celebrities, called the Fantasy Follies, that was part of the hospital's annual staff installation dinner.

She also did solo acts. Once, she donned black face and performed Al Jolson's "Mammy." Another year she stuffed two balloons in her shirt and did a Dolly Parton routine.

She also was known for her frankness. "Charlotte never hesitated to offer her opinion," her son-in-law, Tom Clanin, said. "Proper manners and dress were important to her, and she let people know when she disapproved. "Soon after we first met," Clanin recalled, "she told me she didn't like the way my hair was cut made an appointment for me at her salon, which she helped open in Fullerton. I went to Christopher's, and my hair did look better."

In an era when being a doctor's wife was considered an occupation the wives supported charitable causes and promoted their husband's work Mrs. Paul Ovando energetically threw herself into many volunteer roles. She joined the Orange County Medical Auxiliary, Women of St. Jude and the Heart Association's Heart Fund.

In 1961, before her youngest daughter was old enough for kindergarten, she was named "chairman" no "chairwomen" in those days of the Orange County Heart Fund, organizing the recruitment and training of hundreds of women volunteers who went door-to-door collecting money for the Heart Fund. Mrs. Ovando was still a member of Women of St. Jude at the time of her death.

Never afraid to offer an opinion, Mrs. Ovando was not concerned that she was a newcomer in Orange County when she wrote a letter to the Heart Association explaining how it needed to restructure the Heart Fund.

Mrs. Ovando was also an early and active member of Damas de Caridad (Ladies of Charity), a fund-raising group created in the early 1960s to support St. Jude Hospital. Damas each year presented a Bal Masque, a major fund-raising event for the hospital.

The highlight of the formal dinner-dance was the competition featuring elaborate floral head dresses. Ten women, called mannequins, paraded on a runway wearing the 20-pound floral head dresses.

Over the years, she served as Bal Masque chairman, Damas president and mannequin. She won the Grand Sweep Stakes prize in 1975.

Mrs. Ovando didn't limit her volunteerism to the medical-related philanthropies. She joined the Assistance League of Fullerton in 1989, and in 1991 launched the league's Operation School Bell, which provides new clothes to disadvantaged children in north Orange County. She remained chair of Operation School Bell until 1999, overseeing the donations of new clothes and their distribution to hundreds of grateful children.

Mrs. Ovando also volunteered to work at the league's thrift store and continued to spend one day each week there until a few months ago. In 2000, the Fullerton chapter awarded her league's ADA award named after National Assistance League founder Ada Edwards Laughlin for outstanding service.

She was also honored by the Fullerton School District for helping children. Mrs. Ovando taught remedial reading five hours each week at St. Juliana's Elementary School for 12 years was also a volunteer tutor at La Vista High School. She also raised money for St. Mary's Church and Rosary High School, where her daughters attended, and created the school's Red and Gold talent competition in 1971.

The entire school population was divided into two teams, Red and Gold, with students in each team showcasing their talents. The tradition continues, and this year's Red and Gold meet was held last month.

She opened her house in 1991 for the North Orange County YWCA's home and garden tour, where visitors got to admire her prized English garden.

Besides her husband, Mrs. Ovando is survived by her daughters, Michele Hamilton and Lynn Clanin; sisters Jeanne Kearns and Doris Kearns Goodwin (see bottom); and four grandchildren.

The family requests that people wishing to remember Mrs. Ovando's make donations in her name to Operation School Bell. Sends checks to the Assistance League of Fullerton 223 W. Amerige Ave, Fullerton, 92832 and specify that the donation is for Operation School Bell in her name.

The April 14 remembrance is at the Fullerton Downtown Plaza, behind the Fullerton Museum [i.e., what we knew as the Fullerton Public Library, next to the Hi-Y house] at Pomona and Wilshire avenues, at 5:30 p.m. McAulay & Wallace

Published in the Orange County Register on 4/5/2007.


1. To sign Mrs. Ovando’s Guest Book in the OC Register, open this website address:


2. To publish your memories and comments in the SPOON, send them to me at ps60s@aol.com, and I’ll publish them here.


I too was truly saddened to hear of Char's passing. She was a great lady and a wonderful person, and yes, never hesitated to give you her opinon, and I am glad she did! Both my daughter and I were very fortunate and blessed to have known her.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

Ellie Mendiaz (Orange, CA)

April 5, 2007
I was sad when I learned of Charlotte's passing. I have many memories of her. In particular the days we worked together in Damas. Charlotte wrote the script for our productions for many years. I was lucky to work with her & of course learn from her. I also recall her telling me she should have done her charitable work when her girls were older and she was smarter. What a character she was. This was after she got involved with Fullerton Assistant League, which she loved.

Our prayers are with her family members at this time.

Peter & Barbara Ganahl
Barbara Ganahl (La Habra Heights, CA)

April 4, 2007
Dear Friend,
I will truly miss you and always remember our days in ALF.
God Bless You
Lucy and Glen Oltmanns (Yorba Linda, CA)


Doris Kearns Goodwin, PhD, historian, biographer, media commentator

A brilliant storyteller, Doris Kearns Goodwin makes sense of the people and events of today by illustrating lessons learned from history and the country's greatest leaders. This former Harvard professor, historian and biographer was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for her best-seller No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The American Homefront During World War II.

She has also written best-sellers about the presidencies of Kennedy and LBJ, Wait Till Next Year, tells of her experiences growing up in the 1950s as a die-hard Dodgers fan and her most recent work, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln which instantly made the best-sellers lists.