Arthur Howard Oldham died Sunday August 17 at his home in Charlotte after fighting cancer for many years.
Born in Queens, New York in 1944 to North Carolinian parents Emma Ann Dark of Siler City and Howard Rosson Oldham of Goldston, Art was grounded in good Southern manners and practical skills. His New York upbringing brought out a sophisticated yet reserved and engaging social side -- as a student Art was known for jokes, pranks, and the occasional escapade. He had so much social success at Jamaica High School that prep school was in order.
Art was a quick learner and used his two years at Stony Brook School to get a firm grip on his education, excelling in music and public speaking, literature and language. At Colgate University Art continued to explore literature, drama, and the fine arts. He lent his clear baritone to Colgate's a cappella group, the Thirteen, sketched, painted colorful canvases, and welded metal sculpture -- work that led him to enroll at the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture where he learned to see his design ideas in terms of structures. A strong athlete, Art also wrestled and played football in high school and, during the summers, worked as the head ocean guard at the Bath and Tennis Club in Westhampton Beach.
Art's practical side and the dawning of the conservation era inspired him to work more closely with the land. He took a job with a land planning firm in Philadelphia, and in 1976 opened an office for the firm in Denver, Colorado. Art worked on many projects in Colorado and throughout the West, and in the early 1980s opened his own firm. He relocated to North Carolina in 1988, delighted to be in the South and to participate in Charlotte's renaissance. Here, Art worked on many projects and his efforts won design awards for the use of indigenous stone in entrance monuments and public spaces. He especially enjoyed working with Crescent Resources on waterfront communities such as the Point, the Peninsula, and the Sanctuary. Art always tried to infuse his work with his playfulness, love of the outdoors, respect for the natural environment and sense of place.
An avid reader, Art was fond of The New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal and the novels of Larry McMurtry. His last literary undertaking was a re-reading of Moby Dick, which he enjoyed discussing with his family on the beach at Figure Eight Island in June. He also loved opera and faithfully attended performances in Denver and Charlotte.
Above all, Art adored his family. In his later years he eased seamlessly into the role of Grandfather, planning beach treasure hunts for his grandchildren and putting his design skills and manual dexterity to work in the crafting of wooden toys, including finely turned, painted and inlaid Harry Potter wands, complete with hand-made wooden cases.
Art is survived by his wife Karen; two sons, Chris of Winston-Salem and Matt of Victor, Idaho; two beloved daughters-in-law, Jane Sandridge Oldham and Stacey Walker Oldham; and four grandchildren -- Kate, Christopher, Jr., Arthur Pendleton, and Margaret Karen.
Memorial gifts may be made to Opera Carolina. A memorial service will be held Thursday, August 21 at 3:00 at Christ Episcopal Church, Charlotte. The family will receive friends following the service in The Blue Room.