Cover photo for Nancy Louise Ordelheide Rubenstein's Obituary
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1939 Nancy 2022

Nancy Louise Ordelheide Rubenstein

August 25, 1939 — May 19, 2022

Nancy Louise Ordelheide Rubenstein (August 25, 1939-May 19, 2022) was born in St. Charles to Dorothy Gehlbach Ordelheide and Elmer Ordelheide on August 25, 1939, the first of three children. She was the valedictorian of her class at St. Charles High School before pursuing graduate studies at Northwestern University and completing a Ph.D. in music history at Washington University. At Wash U she met her husband of 52 years, Bill, and their travels took them to every continent on the planet and back home to the house they built together in 1980.


Nancy was an exceptional musician and a natural teacher; she taught music history courses at local universities, instructed her older daughter (Jessica) on the piano and accompanied her younger one (Eliza) on the violin, wrote program notes and gave pre-concert talks for the St. Louis Symphony and other local organizations, and sang tenor when the family performed Christmas carols around the piano. She loved her dogs, her family, and her friends, and she was especially close to her granddaughter, Greta, whose podcast about their daily phone calls won a prize in NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge.


She had the best gardens in the neighborhood, she wrote the wittiest letters and e-mails (when she could get her computer to work), she was an exceptional cook and baker, she made gorgeous artwork that ranged from glasswork to needlepoint, she was a loyal and devoted friend, and her passion for Cardinals baseball was unmatched and undimmed even during the team’s darker decades.


Nancy is survived by her daughters, Jessica Rubenstein of Boston and Eliza Rubenstein (Julie Fischer) of Costa Mesa, California; her granddaughter, Greta, of Boston; a brother, James Ordelheide, of St. Louis; and a sister, Jean Bowman, of Seattle. She was preceded in death in 2016 by her husband, Bill.

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