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Published: Thursday, 10/22/2009

Museum aide a descendant of glass magnate

Caroline MacNichol Orser, 80, a longtime volunteer at the Toledo Museum of Art and a member of the board of directors, died Oct. 11 in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township, of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

She was named to the board in the late 1960s. She was on the art committee, which made the final decision on art purchases, former museum director Roger Berkowitz said. Most recently, she was an honorary board member.

She volunteered nearly 20 years in the Works of Art on Paper department - the museum's collection of prints, drawings, and books - and did research for exhibitions and museum catalogs.

"She was very meticulous," Mr. Berkowitz said. "She made a tremendous contribution. She was a volunteer, but also in many ways she felt like staff in the best sense. We all took our coffee breaks together, and she knew the curators and came to the programs."

Mrs. Orser of Perrysburg Township was a former president of the museum aides. She was a volunteer docent and a staff lecturer.

Her father, George Pope MacNichol, Jr., chairman of the former Libbey-Owens-Ford Co., was on the museum board from 1938 until his death in 1989.

They were descendants of Capt. John Ford, the father of the U.S. plate-glass industry, and Edward Ford, whose firm preceded L-O-F.

Her late brother, George Pope MacNichol III, who died in December, 2008, was an L-O-F vice president, the fifth generation of his family in the glass industry.

She was proud of her heritage, Mr. Berkowitz said, "but she never dwelled on it. That was one of the things that was part of her. But it didn't define her. She was very intelligent. She had an incredible charm and was also a very authentic individual."

She was active in the United Way of Greater Toledo and was on the board of the former Luella Cummings School for girls.

She was a member of the Country Garden Club in Perrysburg and the Junior League of Toledo, and a supporter of the Black Swamp Conservancy. "She did all those things with zest and gusto," her husband, Peter R. Orser, said.

Born July 30, 1929, she grew up in Perrysburg and attended Maumee Valley Country Day School. She was a graduate of Smith College.

She went to New York City afterward and landed a job - secretarial at first - at the New Yorker under legendary editor William Shawn. An early duty was to escort author and cartoonist James Thurber from the elevator to his office, said her husband, Peter, a former L-O-F vice president.

Surviving are her husband, Peter, whom she married June 11, 1955; daughter, Caroline Ford Orser; sons, Peter M. and George M. Orser; brother, Roland S. MacNichol, and four grandchildren.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday in St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Maumee, where she was a longtime member. Arrangements are by the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg.

The family suggests tributes to the Toledo Museum of Art or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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