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Caroline Arnold

Caroline Arnold went to work for U.S. Senator John Glenn, D-Ohio, in Washington, D.C., in 1985. Twenty-three years before, Glenn had flown “Friendship 7”, the first manned orbital mission for the U.S.

Sen. John Glenn with Caroline Arnold Sen. John Glenn with Caroline Arnold

“When I would go to receptions in D.C., the questions to me about John Glenn, astronaut, never ceased. We continually got letters from around the world and were deluged with all kinds of requests - from the Senator's favorite recipe to requests to recognize constituents' birthdays. I remember one youngster who wrote in and asked if the world was really round.  Glenn was able to reply that Yes, when he was in orbit, he looked, and it was.

“Quite frankly, I kept being surprised at the ongoing interest. I guess this was because I grew up in Ohio and continued to live there. Even before Sen. Glenn became an astronaut, he distinguished himself in both WWII and the Korean War, with coverage in the press of this from time to time. He was, deservedly, a public hero before he went alone into outer space.

“What I found most gratifying was the interest of young people, students who were working on class assignments. I liked that new generations respected him for the risks he took and what it meant not only for the U.S. but other countries as well.”

Ms. Arnold's job with Sen. Glenn required her to keep track of news coverage of the senator to make sure it was as accurate and fair as possible. She was also responsible for getting complete information to the media. She wrote news releases, collected and assembled media clip review books, wrote speeches and answered letters.

“I went first on a six-month John Glenn Fellowship,” she said. How she came to stay was reported in the Akron Beacon Journal in 1997, in a recollection by Dale Butland who was Glenn’s longtime speech-writer.

“I bet she wasn’t here more than a week when she read one of the speeches I had written. She thought some of the speech stuff could be a little better.”

One of Caroline’s first jobs was providing background material on President Reagan’s nomination of Ed Meese to be Attorney General, which Glenn ended up opposing.

She soon discovered that her job required her to become a specialist in many areas of proposed legislation and of special interest to Glenn.

One example was from 1994 to 1996 when Glenn’s office was monitoring procedures in the Department of Energy’s clean-up of contamination at an Ashtabula manufacturing operation. Glenn's overall goal was to involve local residents and former workers in rehabilitating the site and retraining workers for a new enterprise cleaning up mildly radioactive machinery. Ms. Arnold was gratified when this outcome was achieved and that she was able to make a contribution to it.

In 1989, Caroline moved from Glenn’s D.C. office to his Cleveland office. (New computer connections coming online at the time made it possible for her to carry out similar duties as when she was in D.C.) She missed her home and activities in Kent, even though she had created an interesting life in D.C., where she was a member of the Congressional Chorus, had installed a garden at her suburban Washington home and played cello in a local chamber music group.

For the first year, she commuted back to Kent once a month to attend meetings of the school board on which she had served for 10 years. She retired from Glenn’s office in 1997.

In addition to her school board service, Ms. Arnold had numerous accomplishments before moving to D.C. A strong theme emerged in my recent interview with her: she intends that everything she does helps enlarge the horizons of individuals and serves society.

Caroline holds two bachelor degrees — one in music from Oberlin College and another in theater from Kent State University. She was a onetime partner in the Peaceable Kingdom Bakery in Kent. She was also a former cello teacher and musician for symphonies in Columbus, Youngstown and Akron. She has two grown children and one grandchild.

Ms. Arnold's opinion columns appear in the Revenna-Kent Record-Courier and on the Common Dreams online newsletter. In these, she expresses her opinion on a wide range of social issues. She is a board member and secretary of the Akron Council on World Affairs.

Sen. John Glenn with Caroline Arnold Caroline Arnold at home with her cello
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