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Official Obituary of

Cleland Dwight Oltman

May 27, 1936 ~ December 30, 2022 (age 86) 86 Years Old

Cleland Oltman Obituary

Maestro Cleland Dwight Oltman passed away on December 30, 2022 at the age of 86. He was the fourth child of eight, born May 27, 1936 to Lois and George Oltman (deceased) in the small town of Imperial, Nebraska.

Dwight is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Shirley Jean (Studebaker) Oltman; two children, Michelle Oltman Gottfried (John), and Nicole Oltman Craycraft, along with five grandchildren, Jake Lexi, Brendan, Evan and Leah, brother Berwyn and sisters Betty, Karen and Eileen. He was preceded in death by his brothers, David, Dale and Marlo.

A Memorial Service will be held at the First United Methodist Church of Waynesville (566 South Haywood Street, Waynesville NC) on Saturday, February 18, 2023 at 2:00pm followed by a reception at the church.

Gifts in lieu of flowers may be made in Dwight’s memory to the Oltman family Instrumental Performance Prize ( Designation: Oltman gift.

Dwight grew up in rural Nebraska and attended Imperial High school. After High School he attended McPherson college in Kansas where he majored in music.  He received his Masters degree at Wichita State University and did Doctorial studies at the University of Cincinnati.

Dwight’s decorated career started as a professor at Manchester College in Indiana where he met his dear wife Shirley, a music major. From there he took a job in Cleveland Ohio at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music and spent 44 years as a professor and music director of the Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the world-renowned Baldwin Wallace Bach Festival.  While in Cleveland he was the founding music director of the Ohio Chamber Orchestra for 20 years and music director of the Cleveland Ballet for 24 years, which eventually became the Ballet San Jose where he spent 12 more years commuting to California. Dwight did much guest conducting around the world with his highlights being conducting the Volgograd symphony in Russia, the Edinburgh festival in Scotland and performing with the ballet in Shanghai, China. In retirement he directed the Smoky Mountain International Conducting Institute and Competition for three years with conductors coming from all over the world to compete and study with him.

Dwight was loved by his students, it has been said that not only did he teach them the subject matter at hand but about life, discipline, humility, hard work and even health. He held them to high standards, treating them as professionals, advocating for and encouraging many. Dwight was a life-long learner and encouraged his students to do the same. He was “terrifying” but also a gentle loving soul, many recall his “booming” voice, wide-eyes and post-concert smile.

His family will remember his profound faith in god and his intense loyalty and love for his wife, children and grandchildren.



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Memorial Service
February 18, 2023

2:00 PM
First United Methodist Church of Waynesville
5665 South Haywood St.
Waynesville, NC 28786


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