Jackie Olsen passed away on September 6, 2014, after a long illness. She was born on August 7, 1933 in Kansas City, Missouri to Fredrick Olaf Swanson and Geraldine Dora Rodd. Much of her childhood was spent in the Midwest. She graduated from Robbinsdale High School in the greater Minneapolis MN area and worked as a Bell Telephone switchboard operator and at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Minneapolis as a secretary. She married James Leroy Olsen on September 17, 1955 in Minneapolis.
Jackie and Jim had four children and moved to Chapel Hill NC in 1969. Jackie was instrumental in putting all of her children through college, working at administrative jobs with the UNC-CH Physical Therapy Department, the Nursing Office and the Department of Pediatrics.
She loved music and was a talented pianist at a young age, mastering technically difficult classics. Her favorite was Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy. A great singer, she enjoyed her time with the 60-person Robbinsdale Civic Choir as a young woman. A highlight of that time was sharing the stage with Rosemary Clooney and the Stan Kenton Orchestra at Soldier Field in Chicago. Later in life, she traveled extensively in Europe and the Mediterranean with her husband. At home, she spent time developing her skills as a gourmet cook.
She could always find the humor in a situation, often dispelling adversity with a wry comment. She excelled as a mother, teaching her children the importance of strong family bonds and of long-lasting friendships. She built connections with people that lasted for decades. Her best friend from childhood was Mary Jane Herrlin of Minneapolis MN.
Jackie is survived by her husband James Olsen of Chapel Hill, four children; Elizabeth (Lee) Olsen Landers of Durham NC, Sue Olsen McCullough of Santa Rosa CA, Stu Olsen of Claremont CA, and Mary Olsen DeCoursey of Raleigh NC. She has five grandchildren, Bryson Landers, Katie McCullough, Lauren McCullough, Phoebe Olsen and Natalie Olsen. James DeCoursey and Don McCullough will continue to compete for most favored son-in-law status in her memory.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Music program. Please designate handbells.
A memorial service will be held in her honor at 10 AM on Saturday, September 13 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 300 East Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill.