Madeleine Ortoleva, Skidmore alumna and longtime professor of French at the College,
died July 4, 2013. She was 89.
Born August 6, 1923, in Reims, France, Madeleine attended the Lyceé de Reims in France before marrying Michael J. Ortoleva of Ballston Spa toward the end of World War II and emigrating to the United States. The couple, parents of two sons, settled in the area and Madeleine sought admission as a special student to Skidmore.
Madeleine began as an instructor of French in 1957, and earned promotions to assistant and associate professor before being named a full professor in 1981. She earned a B.A. degree from Skidmore in 1960, graduating with departmental honors. She earned an M.A. degree in 1963 and a doctoral degree in 1975, both at the State University of New York at Albany.
Her scholarly achievements included a variety of papers presented at professional meetings on topics ranging from French literature to the teaching of language and culture. Her published works include a contribution (“The Walnut Trees of the Altenburg: An Interpretation”) to the anthology of essays in memory of André Malraux titled Dialogues with the Unseen and the Unknown, and a book, Joris-Karl Huysmans: Romancier du Salut, published in 1981.
Lynne Gelber, professor emerita of French and former department chair, said, “I loved Madeleine. She was so welcoming to me when I joined the faculty in 1966, and became a dear friend as well as a colleague. She gave me the warmest support and friendship, and she had such a lovely smile. Students flocked to her office. Her warmth and kindness will be remembered by a generation of students. ”
Madeleine was active in a number of professional organizations, including the Alliance Française de Schenectady; the American Association of Teachers of French, Hudson Valley chapter (which she served two terms as president); the Skidmore chapter of the American Association of University Professors; the Modern Language Association; and the New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers, which gave her its Ruth E. Wasley Distinguished Teacher Award in Post-Secondary Education in 1986. Madeleine was a student of Professor Wasley while at SUNY-Albany.
Her husband, four brothers, and two sisters predeceased Madeleine. She is survived by her sons Ronald (Janice) of Ontario, Canada, and Michael of New York City; two grandchildren; sister Simonne Brodier of France; and many nieces and nephews.