E. Pauline Degenfelder, PhD, MBA, age 83, of Shaker Heights, OH, passed away on November 16, 2023.  Pauline was born in New York City in 1940 to Joseph and Elise Sutta, who ran a diner in Queens, NY. She had a pleasant childhood, exploring New York City, going to summer camp and taking care of her sister Nancy. Pauline attended the Mary Louis Academy before receiving a Bachelors of Arts in English at Cornell University.  Reflecting her lifelong love of learning, Pauline did Masters study in English at Columbia University and received her degree from University of Houston, a PhD in English from Case Western Reserve University, and an MBA from Case Western.  Pauline had a varied career in education, teaching at Dundalk High School, Jesse H. Jones High School, Lakeland College, Fitchburg State, and serving as director of English curriculum for the Worcester, MA public school system.  She then embarked on a healthcare career, working at Kaiser Permanente, MetroHealth, CIGNA, Coventry Health and United HealthCare.  Pauline was a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, a member of Leadership Cleveland, and in 1999 received the Greater Cleveland Woman of Achievement Award.


Pauline met the love of her life, Joseph, at Cornell University, and they were married on September 16, 1961 in Douglaston, NY.  Together they lived in Maryland, Texas (where they were briefly separated during the Cuban Missile Crisis), Delaware, Ohio (Mentor & Shaker Heights) and Massachusetts.  They had two children, Eric & Curtis, and they were very proud of both boys, and loving to their daughters-in-law Jennifer & Alexes.  They also have three grandchildren, Eric Jr., Cecelia, and Matthew.  They appreciated cats, with Perk, Samson, Matty, Kitkat, Terrence, Floyd & Tiger brightening their lives.  Pauline traveled extensively, to Italy (with multiple trips to Venice), Mexico, Colombia, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Russia, China (multiple trips while Eric and family lived there), Egypt, Germany, and Japan.


Pauline loved the arts.  She taught film, and truly appreciated even the most avant-garde films.  She and Joseph were engaged with the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Pauline did many hours of research there on Chinese art.  Joseph and Pauline sponsor an annual lecture on Chinese art at the museum (Pauline attended the lecture on November 5, sitting in the front row).  Their house is filled with art, from modern Vasarely lithographs to Venetian glass to ancient Chinese treasures.  The Degenfelders also donated art to institutions around the country.  Pauline was deeply involved in the Cleveland Boys & Girls Club, serving on the Board of Directors and financing the purchase of personal computers.  She kept a long-term involvement with her alma mater Cornell University, serving on multiple reunion committees.  Under President Frank H.T. Rhodes in 1990, Pauline was a founding member of the President’s Council of Cornell women.

There will be a wake for Pauline at Brown-Forward funeral home in Shaker Heights on December 1, 2 – 4 pm and 6 – 8 pm.  There will be a funeral gathering at St. Dominic’s Church on December 2 at 10 am, with the funeral at 11 am.  In lieu of flowers, please send any donations to the Pauline Degenfelder Education Fund at the Cleveland Museum of Art.