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Obituary: Lauren Berkley Schlesinger ’66

Lauren Berkley Schlesinger (“Laurie”) who attended Antioch for one year in 1962 passed away on May 10th after a fourteen month battle with ovarian cancer. She was 66.

At the time of her death, she was survived by her loving husband, Michael (“Mike” class of ‘64) and her children, Charles, Philip and his wife, Karen. In 2005, Laurie and Mike moved to Carlsbad, California from Scarsdale, New York to continue their real estate business plus attempt to retire.

After leaving Antioch, Laurie attended and graduated in 1966 from Upsula College in West Orange, New Jersey with a BS in Biology. Laurie and her husband Mike met at Antioch, but they never dated while Laurie was on campus. In a fairy tale like romance, they met over a period of two years - 5 times in different places in New York City when Mike was on co-op jobs.

The first time they ran into each other was on 14th street in NYC; then different places in New York after that - 23rd street; 34th street and in front of the library at 42nd street and 5th avenue. In June, 1964 Mike had just graduated from Antioch and ran into Laurie crossing a street in midtown Manhattan. He invited her to a graduation party his parents were throwing for him similar in format to the “Graduate.”.

Seeing how beautiful she was at the party and now armed with her telephone number, Mike asked her out and 6 months later proposed. Laurie at first was unsure if she wanted to marry at such a young age, but finally after thinking about it for several months, agreed to marry Mike and they spent 43 happy years together raising two sons and welcoming their daughter-in-law Karen into the family.

Thanks to Mike’s business trips they did extensive traveling seeing over 44 countries on 5 continents, the last being Vietnam and Southern China in the fall of 2009. Many times they were in countries more than once such as France and England, 6 times; Italy 7 times; Spain, Russia, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Estonia, Norway, Costa Rica, Finland and China twice.

There are supposed to be 30 wonders of the world; at the time of Laurie's death, Mike and Laurie had seen 23 of them and were making plans to see the 24th. The highlight of their travels was to visit Tibet before McDonalds and KFC made their invasion.

As to Laurie’s good looks, Laurie youngest son Charles when he was about 12 saw a picture of his mom when she was dating Mike and remarked, “Gee Mom, you were a good looker!!” Laurie turned to him and said in response, “What do you mean ‘were’??”

Laurie thought it important to be a stay at home mom for her kids. However, this did not mean she sat idly by while her kids were in school. She was involved in many charitable and philanthropic activities including being head of International Families in Scarsdale, New York, a sustaining member of Junior League and a volunteer at Lyndhurst, a mansion in Tarrytown, New York which is a National Historic Building. With Junior League she was one of the first women to break the age barrier because they admitted her when her children were fully grown

She also owned and operated Lauren E. Berkley Antiques and Collectibles, an antique business she started from scratch which at the time of her death had developed a major following. While living in Scarsdale, Lauren exhibited her antiques and collectibles regularly in such major New York antique shows as Meg Wendy and the Pier shows. Her showroom was located at Hiden Galleries in Stamford, Connecticut.

Laurie’s maternal grandmother, when she came to this country, worked as chicken plucker at a Kosher butcher. One of Mike’s favorite remarks about Laurie’s success as she hobnobbed with notables in the business and diplomatic communities was to say “pretty good for the granddaughter of a chicken plucker.”

There is also a funny story about Laurie’s unique inventory and it involved the sale of one of their houses. The buyer after contract was signed asked to bring in her well known designer and decorator to discuss placement of furniture, pictures, etc. The decorator arrived with a few pieces and Laurie recognized one of them. She then consulted her inventory records and sure enough, the decorator had bought the piece from Laurie. Everyone had a good laugh at that point.

In lieu of flowers the family has requested that contributions be made “In Memory of Lauren Schlesinger” with the checks made payable to the University of California, San Diego Foundation noting on the memo line or in a note that the money is restricted to Ovarian Cancer Research. The checks should be mailed to: Pam Werner, University of California, San Diego, Moores Cancer Ctr Development, 200 W. Arbor Dr. #8982, San Diego, CA 92103-8982