Robert Stephen Olson passed away peacefully in Chico, California on Sept. 30, 2018 at the age of 79. He is survived by his wife of 56 years Donna Olson, daughters Kristen Wilson and Karen Sohoza of Chico and son Stephen Olson of Chico. He also very-much enjoyed his 15 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren (with 2 more due to arrive this year), as well as nieces and nephews in California, Washington and Iowa. He was preceded in death by his youngest daughter Kimberly Leavey (who passed away in February 2018 at the age of 48), brother Jack R. Olson of Everett, Washington and sister Gloria Railsback of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, mother Maurita King and step-father Ed King of Friday Harbor.
Born on June 12th, 1939 in Duluth, Minnesota, Bob spent his young childhood there until 1949 when his family moved to Friday Harbor, Washington. As a teenager and grocery clerk at King’s Market, he would meet his future wife Donna and they would start a romance that would last the rest of his life. He graduated from Friday Harbor High School as part of a class of only 12 students in 1957 and immediately joined the U.S. Navy, where he served as an Electrician’s Mate on the USS Jenkins stationed in Hawaii. He also toured Australia and Japan as part of his service and crossed the equator where he transformed from a “Pollywog” to a “Shellback” as part of Naval tradition and rite of passage. After his service, he spent the next 30 years in San Jose and Ben Lomond, CA working in management for Pacific Bell and AT&T and raising his large family. Summer vacations were always spent on San Juan Island with extended family doing the things he really enjoyed like boating with brother Jack and his family, camping, fishing and Salmon BBQs on the beaches of Puget Sound. A brief job transfer in 1977 to Basking Ridge, New Jersey allowed him to visit many historic Civil War battlefields and museums and share his love of history with his family.
Bob retired to Chico, California in 1991 to be closer to his children who lived in the area. He loved his community and enjoyed driving, so he spent many hours driving vehicles for Veterans and the disabled in Chico and was a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles.
Robert Olson was a man who spent his adult life putting family first. He loved unconditionally and accepted every neighbor kid and family friend as if they were family too. He attended every school play, soccer game, birthday party and graduation, carrying a thermos of coffee wherever he went. He will be remembered for being a generous soul who loved babies and movies and candy, family and the sea. Words cannot express how much he will be missed, but our family will be forever grateful for our time with him.
A memorial service will be held in Chico, California on Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. Location is Chico Center for Spiritual Living at 14 Hillary Lane. A graveside burial service will take place in a ceremony next year at San Juan Island Cemetery on June 8, 2019 at 1 p.m. Reception will immediately follow.