Oglesby, Yolande (1917-2012) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Oglesby, Yolande (1917-2012)
Fuller Form: Yolande Perkins Oglesby

Historical Note:

Yolande Oglesby (1917-2012) was born in Chicago Illinois on January 13, 1917. She was the daughter of Frederick Wainwright Perkins, a wealthy architect from Chicago, and Yolande Vandeveer Perkins, whose family descended from the Vandeveer Family (one of the first families to settle in New Netherlands). At the age of 2, her family retired to the country in Morrisonville, Illinois. While her father continued his architectural practice in Morrisonville, he also co-owned a sugar plantation in Cuba with his brother that he managed from abroad. Two years later, the family moved to Boston. At the time, her sister Emily, who was four years older than Yolande, enrolled in the Brimmer School near Boston College. Yoldane would enroll shortly thereafter. Outside of school, the girls were raised by a governess and rarely saw their parents. At the age of 6, Yolande's father sent both sisters to the Lebec Boarding School in Paris, France. While attending the boarding school, the girls' father died and their mother transferred them to a boarding school in Sheffield, England for the remainder of the school year. At age 13, the girls moved back to Boston where they attended Windsor School. Oglesby seems to have participated in school plays around this time, which may have later inspired her love for theatrical and musical productions later in life. The Great Depression seems not to have affected the family's lavish lifestyle, Oglesby claims that she never needed to work for a living and that her mother purchased several acres of land in Illinois during the Depression. They even spent several summers away from Boston in order to ride horses at their ranch in Wyoming. After graduating high school, Oglesby did not enroll in college, but instead moved to New York City. Throughout the 1930s and 40s, Oglesby traveled exstensively as is noted by the location and dates of the concert programs and theatre playbills after 1930.

Oglesby was married three times during her life. At age 25, she married Tom Ponting; the two were divorced soon after they were wed. In 1943, she married, Dick Oglesby, with whom she had two children; the two were divorced by the late 1940s. After moving to Florida in the early 1950s, she married Mark Lasswell, with whom she had one child. After an unhappy and abusive marriage, the two divorced in 1953. Sometime after the 1960s, she moved back to her family's estate in Morrisonville, Illinois. Oglesby died in 2012.

Throughout her life, Oglesby attended numerous theatrical, musical, and dance programs in theatres around the world. Although it is unclear how she came to be in the possession of Kitty Cheatham's personal materials, it seems she not only collected programs attended by Cheatham but also amassed her own collection of theater programs.

Sources: University of Illinois at Springfield Archives, "Yolande Perkins Oglesby Memoir," Interview with Mary E. Weller, 1998.
Note Author: Nolan Vallier

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