Kenneth C. Schonberg
Kenneth Carlos Schonberg, 94, died Friday, December 29 in Cincinnati. This much loved and gifted business owner, of British and Norwegian heritage, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina ('23). A graduate of the prestigious Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires, he went on to the University of Buenos Aires and later Columbia University. After training in the Argentine Army at university, he left Argentina (’44) as a 21-year-old Latin American Volunteer (LAV) hoping to become a WWII fighter pilot. He ended up in the British Army and received officer training at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, achieving the rank of Captain. He served with the l5th/19th The King's Royal Hussars in Palestine, Egypt and what would become the State of Israel. After the War, he returned briefly to BA, but used his English/Spanish fluency to land a job with a subsidiary of Shell Oil in Maracaibo, Venezuela. He later worked there for Lummis, an oil refinery builder. Invited by fellow workers to visit New York City, he fell in love with the city, stayed and eventually sold the first computer to Madison Avenue's Young and Rubicam. Always entrepreneurial, he established his own companies in NYC. He married Joan Wiseman (d.'88) who he met at Columbia and they started his first family, a daughter and two sons, in a happy 36-year marriage. During his job with Billboard, he was asked to move to Cincinnati to help manage the plant here. When it closed the family wanted to remain in Cincinnati and Ken gained employment in human resources at Federated. A year after leaving Federated, he established Schonberg Associates, an outplacement firm, that grew to seven offices. His company was hired by large corporations and smaller companies to help employees find their own new jobs upon separation from their employers. While out and about in the city Ken was thanked by very grateful former clients on a regular basis.
Ken loved Cincinnati and was an outstanding volunteer serving on the Board of the Cincinnati Opera where he and wife Deborah Schultz are members of the Society of Angels. Ken was on the Boards of the Cincinnati Ballet and WGUC. At Radio Reading Services for the Blind he hosted a news and comedy show. He volunteered with the Dan Beard Boy Scout Council, the WCET Action Auction and Middfest International in Middletown, among other organizations. Ken was one of the first instructors at the founding of what is now the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). He served on its board, taught two Spanish courses for well over two decades and received OLLI's highest recognition award. He continued private Spanish tutoring in his home until his death. Ken was a proud immigrant turned U.S. citizen who loved this country and hated dictators. He was an an optimist, who lived life to the fullest often citing the motto, "La vida es corta, pero ancha--life is short but broad." So many friends saw him as a role model of how to grow old with verve and grace. A gifted linguist, Ken sang in choirs, acted and performed in community theatre, wrote an autobiography, Mi Vida, started a men’s lunch group and shared a love of, the arts, world travel, literature and international and humanitarian causes with his wife of 25 years, Deborah Schultz. In his later years, he took up painting and like everything he did, he did it well.
Kenneth is survived by his wife, Deborah Schultz; sons Thomas Schultz (Bloomington, IN); Dr. Jeffrey Schonberg/Heather (Wilmette, IL); David H. Schonberg/Robin Greiner (Wilmette, IL); daughter Erica McDonnell/Kevin (Cincinnati); six grandchildren Laine and Brian McDonnell, Emily Cooper and Jessica Schonberg, Ben and Theo Schonberg, and one great granddaughter, Avery McDonnell. A memorial book can be signed at Elden Good/Spring Grove Funeral Home. A Celebration of Life Private Service will be held. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Ken's name to the Cincinnati Opera https://www.cincinnatiopera.org/support/individual-giving/and OLLI, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute https://www.uc.edu/ce/olli/giving_to_olli.html.