The Oberkotter Foundation was created by Paul and Louise Oberkotter. Paul was a long-time employee of United Parcel Service (“UPS”), beginning his career at age 20 as a typist/accountant for one of the founders, George Smith. Early on, he met Louise, who worked for Jim Casey, another of the founders, and they later married.
Paul rose through the ranks, serving as president for 10 years and ultimately as chief executive officer and chairman of the board of UPS. He retired in 1985 after 60 years with the company and remained on the board of directors until 1994.
Paul and Louise had a daughter, Mildred, who was deafened in infancy. In choosing a communication option, they decided that Mildie would learn to communicate through spoken English — the language of their home — and would be a full participant in their community. Recognizing the importance of having appropriate educational supports to achieve their goal, they sought out the professionals, organizations, tools and other resources they needed to ensure Mildie’s complete and comprehensive education.
In 1985, Paul and Louise, working with their personal attorney, George H. Nofer, created and funded the Oberkotter Foundation.
Focus of the Foundation
The early focus of the Foundation was based on Paul and Louise’s primary interest in diabetes and deafness. A few additional areas of medical research were added over the years based on the interests and experiences of the Trustees.
In recent years, Mildie’s vision of the future has led the Trustees to focus funding almost entirely on deafness-related issues to ensure that families have access to listening and spoken language (LSL) services regardless of where they live in the United States. Our grant guidelines describe our funding areas more fully.
Leaders of the Foundation
Paul and Louise served with George as the original Trustees of the Foundation. Mildie became a Trustee upon Louise’s death in 1987; and Paul served until his death in 1998.
George served as the first Executive Director of the Foundation. He established our early systems and helped develop the initial focus of the Foundation, including the creation of over 25 new LSL programs in communities across the United States and the release of the Dreams Spoken films. He was named Trustee Emeritus in 2007, and held that title until his death in 2021.
Bruce A. Rosenfield became the second Executive Director of the Foundation in 2003, and joined the Board of Trustees in 2005. He has led the efforts to launch Hearing First and to support professionals and their organizations in taking advantage of today’s tools and technology to effectively meet the needs of families and their children.
David A. Pierson joined the Board of Trustees in 2012, and serves today with Mildie and Bruce.
Celebrating our 30th Anniversary
In 2016, the Foundation celebrated its 30th year supporting listening and spoken language opportunities for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. In honor of the occasion, the Trustees created a short film celebrating Paul, Louise and Mildie’s journey and the impact it has had on the Foundation’s mission and vision. We invite you to watch the Oberkotter Family’s journey to spoken language and we look forward to hearing your family’s story.