Col. James C. (Jay) Olson, 93, died January 13, 2015 at Croasdaile Village in Durham, N.C. Until recent months he had been blessed with good health, a sharp mind and a full head of hair.
A native of Kansas City, Mo., Jay joined the U.S. Army in 1940 and served with the 17th Airborne Division in the Battle of the Bulge and then in airborne operations into Germany and Central Europe. He led forces against the Chinese in mountain hideouts during the Korean War, served with NATO in Norway and ended his military career in personnel operations at the Pentagon. He earned a Bronze Star and logged over 130 parachute jumps in combat.
His civilian life brought careers in management, as a thoroughbred horse breeder and as director of the Food Bank of North Carolina. Jay also led a life of committed and extensive community service with Chatham Outreach Alliance, Chatham Hospice, Stephen Ministers and prison visitation and support.
Jay was a devoted, wise and humorous husband, parent and grandparent who loved telling stories, playing cribbage, cooking, sailing, golfing and dancing to Kansas City jazz. He and Fran, his wife of 28 years, shared a love of travel and enjoyed many adventures across the U.S. and Europe.
Jay is survived by his wife, Fran, sons Mike and Erik, daughter Linda Clark, seven step-children, 24 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and predeceased by his first wife Marjorie and sister Ruth.
A memorial service will be held on January 24 at 2:00 pm at the Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill. Memorial gifts should be made to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.