Olga Zabrodsky Ovenhouse

Olga Zabrodsky Ovenhouse was born September 24, 1936, in Lansing, Michigan, and passed away April 3, 2019, at the age of 82. She graduated from Lansing Eastern High School in 1954, and went on to attend Michigan State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in social science (history) in 1958, followed by a master’s degree in secondary education in 1962. Olga married Robert (Bob) Ovenhouse on August 19, 1960. Soon after, she began a teaching career with the Lansing School District, which spanned more than 30 years. She started at C.W. Otto Junior High School, but spent most of her career teaching English and Russian at Lansing Eastern. Through her dedication to education and devotion to her students, Olga had an impact on countless lives. She touched the lives of those in her personal life, as well. A child of immigrant parents from Ukraine, Olga was especially sensitive to the unique challenges facing immigrants and refugees, and tried to assist those whom she met in any way she could. She developed special bonds with many in the local Armenian community, as well as families from Vietnam. She was also an active member of Interracial Fellowship, and served as its treasurer for several years. Olga was an avid reader, and she enjoyed listening to NPR, watching PBS, supporting charitable organizations, traveling, playing polkas on her accordion, playing cards, and solving jumble puzzles. She had a great love for animals, especially cats and dogs, and loved eating ice cream. Olga will best be remembered for her kind heart and giving spirit.

Olga was preceded in death by her husband, Bob; parents, Theodore and Anastazia Zabrodsky; brother, Jerry Zabrodsky; and sisters, Sonja Bolley and Elizabeth Blake. She is survived by her daughter, Sheila Ovenhouse; brother, Very Rev. Fr. Boris Zabrodsky; three honorary children: Judy Alexander, Doan (Joseph Tran) Nguyen, and Huy (Tina) Tran; six honorary grandchildren: Isabelle and Nathan Tran; and Alina, Aiden, Aaron (deceased), and Nathan Tran; as well as many nieces, nephews, other extended family, and dear friends.

Special thanks to the staff at Hospice House of Mid-Michigan, for the compassionate care and support they provided.

Keeping with Olga’s wishes, there will be no service. Memorial contributions may be made to Capital Area Humane Society, 7095 West Grand River Avenue, Lansing, MI 48906, or Hospice House of Mid-Michigan, 1210 West Saginaw Highway, Lansing, MI 48915. Arrangements are by the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel.

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13 Messages to “Olga Zabrodsky Ovenhouse

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Carol Ingells
April 5, 2019 at 7:16 pm

Olga was a fine and caring teacher and my daughter learned so much from her. May she rest in peace

Richard E. Gallagher
April 7, 2019 at 4:26 pm

Olga was a classmate at Eastern High School and Michigan State University. For a number of years we were close neighbors in Lansing MI. After completing our undergraduate degrees our lives went in different directions and we lost contact, busy with jobs and family. She was a very intelligent and caring individual and I know, an outstanding teacher I always did regarded her as a close friend. I will miss her as I know her family and all those who knew her will as well. I regret that I was unable to re-establish contact with her and Bob in recent years.

Dick Gallagher

April 7, 2019 at 8:18 pm

Olga taught next to me at Eastern High School. We were good friends and I still have a doll she gave me as a gift for my birthday. She loved to teach and she had a great deal of fun with her students, especially teaching Russian. She amazed me with her talent of language and the ability to teach it to others with such ease and grace. May she rest in God’s holy arms.
Carol Spangenberg+

Ren Vande Guchte
April 7, 2019 at 9:01 pm

I am sorry for your loss. If there is anything we can do please let us know.

Steve Blake and Family
April 8, 2019 at 8:20 am

My Aunt Olga was a wonderful person, a model wife to my Uncle Bob and a devoted mother to Sheila, a dedicated teacher and a good friend to all who knew her. As I was growing up, she was always so nice to me, and I always looked forward to spending time with her, Uncle Bob and Sheila. Always the dedicated teacher, their were always books, National Geographics, etc. at her house, and she was able to make learning fun and a natural part of your life. When I got older, she became a good friend and mentor. I always valued her advice, and the fact that she put her beliefs and values first in the way that she handled herself and led her life. Then, when I had children, I again saw how Aunt Olga and Uncle Bob brought themselves down to a children’s level while playing with our kids, just as they had done for me when I was a child. My Aunt Olga lived a full life, and made this world a better place for those around her. She will be truly missed by all those who knew her.

Paul Dalton
April 28, 2019 at 9:07 am

I never met Mrs. Ovenhouse, but had many memorable times with her husband Bob, usually on a job site, who had nothing but respect, honor, and good things to say about his wife, Olga. Bob was a solid member of Plumbers Local 333 for many years in Lansing and was always appreciated and respected in a leadership position. Amazing couple! R.I.P. Olga (Mrs. Ovenhouse)

Mary Ellen Cook
April 28, 2019 at 9:14 am

I knew Olga through my husband,(Paul Cook) who also taught at Eastern. She was a lovely lady and a good friend to many. My condolences, Sheila, on your loss. May she rest in the Peace of God.

Helen Cirrito
April 28, 2019 at 10:52 am

Dear Ovenhouse Family,
We are very appreciative of the role Olga played at befriending the Armenian immigrants beginning in 1990, especially as her role as a Russian-language teacher at Eastern high School. We placed our newly arrived students in her class so that they could learn English, all the while having someone who could communicate with them in Russian (the immigrants’ first language at the time)! she became and friend and mentor to many in the Armenian community and was generous and kind in all she did.

I personally found Olga to be sincere, gentle and genuinely concerned for her fellow man. She will be missed by many and remembered fondly. May she rest in peace.


Helen Knar (Arakelian) Cirrito
Volunteer, Armenian Community of Greater Lansing

Leora Stutes, Interracial Fellowship
April 29, 2019 at 10:18 am

Very nice summary of her life. Many people will remember her and miss her.

We both enjoyed Interracial Fellowship meetings and the friends we made there. This group has been in existence since November 6, 1944. It’s goal is to give people of African American descent and European or other backgrounds an opportunity to become friends and enjoy each other’s company. It’s amazing that the group, which is a local group, has been in continuous existence for such a long time – 75 years!

I am personally happy for such a nice obituary. Thank you very much.

Leora Stutes

David Angus
April 29, 2019 at 2:31 pm

It was an honor to teach next door to Olga Ovenhouse at Eastern High School. She was always
gracious, helpful, and soft spoken. She was also courageous. Once when a fierce fight
developed in the hall between two girls, and one of them suddenly produced a sharp blade–and a circle of excited students gathered to watch–Olga pushed into the center, grabbed one of the combatants, flung her into a classroom and slammed the door. Ben Weeks was able to disarm the other little girl, while the rest of us worked to restore order. I received a misdirected slash on the back of my trousers that reached down to my skin, but Olga was unperturbed in her role as peacemaker. Just another day at school.
I was also privileged to teach English to Sheila Ovenhouse, Bob and Olga’s daughter, whose
daily performance was always imaginative and flawless. My sincere condolences to her on the loss of her mother.

Colleen Schmidt
April 29, 2019 at 4:01 pm

Mrs. Ovenhouse was a wonderful teacher and friend. I still remember some of my Russian! I used to house/pet sit for them also. So many good memories. She will be missed.

Pam Vasilion Bruce
May 1, 2019 at 7:43 pm

I was a friend of Shelia’s and visited the Ovenhouse home many times during our high school years. Mrs. Ovenhouse was always very kind and welcoming to me which was so appreciated. We have lost contact over the years but I will always think of the Ovenhouse family with great fondness which brings a smile to my face.

Jangul Powell
August 9, 2019 at 2:35 pm

I took 4 years of Russian at Eastern. That would make her the only teacher in my lifetime who ever had to put up with me for that long. I don’t think I ever used or spoke Russian outside that classroom.I probably just liked sitting around reading with and (being admonished) by my favorite teacher. It’s sad to think she’s not still around providing more kids the opportunity I had. But, that’s leavened by the joy I feel that she passed through my life.


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