Vail Daily obituary: Dave Olson, 1947-2015
After a courageous 22-month battle with lung cancer, Dave Olson, of Eagle, passed away peacefully in his home Saturday surrounded by his beloved family. Dave was 68 years old.
Dave was born Feb. 11, 1947, in Brodhead, Wisconsin, where he graduated high school in 1966. He worked in the family farming business and at Pierce Music before he was drafted into the military in 1966. Dave retired from the military in 1977, after 11 years of service. He served three tours in Vietnam as a combat engineer in the 101st Airborne, 1st Cavalry Division and Fourth Infantry Division. Dave was a highly decorated soldier earning numerous honorable awards such as the Vietnam Service Medal, Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Bronze Star Medal. Most importantly, Dave was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, which he refused to accept due to the soldiers who lost their lives fighting alongside him.
In 1976, Dave married the love of his life, Kathy (French). They resided in Colorado Springs while he was stationed at Fort Carson until his military retirement in 1977. Following his retirement, the couple moved to Clear Lake, Iowa, to be near family, where Dave returned to farming. The Olsons were blessed with the anticipation of the birth of their first child, Joshua David. Because of Dave’s passion for the Rocky Mountains, they returned to Colorado Springs in 1979 to welcome and raise their first born. Josh was Dave’s pride and joy, and he loved to share his passion for the mountains with Josh while teaching him the secrets of his self-proclaimed legend of “The Great White Hunter.” The love he had for the great outdoors, fishing and hunting is passionately shared by his son Josh.
Upon the return to Colorado, Dave worked at Schlage Lock until his dedication to the military led him back to serve in the Civil Service. The couple’s second son, David John, was born in 1985 and unexpectedly passed away at the age of 3 1/2 months. In 1987, the Olson family moved to the mountains of Colorado, where they later built their dream home. It overlooked the beautiful Rocky Mountains that they enjoyed with such passion. After working construction and with the school district, Dave became medically disabled and retired, allowing him to enjoy the life he always envisioned in the mountains. Dave enjoyed traveling to visit his many family, friends and military comrades, which included numerous trips to Wisconsin, Iowa, Florida and Jamaica. Those trips most always consisted of hunting and fishing. Dave and Josh made many memories while enjoying their hunting and fishing trips. There was always intense competition between the two for the first and/or biggest fish, and whose deer or elk had the widest and/or most points — who won that competition depends on which one you spoke to.
Living in their Eagle mountain dream home allowed him to keep his connection to the military with bi-weekly trips to Grand Junction to enjoy time with his fellow veterans, “The Dragons,” as well as indulge in coffee and biscuits and gravy at the VA Hospital cafeteria every Wednesday. One can only begin to imagine the “fish stories” that came out of those encounters. If you were fortunate enough to be Dave’s friend, then you were not only a friend for life, but you became a part of his family as well.
Dave will be greatly missed and fondly remembered as a passionate loving husband, father and friend and according to him, “The Great White Hunter.” He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Kathy Olson; his son and daughter-in-law, Josh and Heather Olson, of Colorado Springs; sisters Barb Menehan, Sandy Miller (Bruce), Debbie Fitzgerald and Mary DeWeerdt (Craig); as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins, all of Wisconsin and Illinois; mother-in-law Lorraine French, of Iowa; brother-in-law Terry French (Kari), of Texas; sister-in-laws Nancy Kunzman (Harv), of Iowa, Vicky Holstad, of Colorado, Wendy Wood (Dan), of Iowa; brother-in-law Lynn Holstad, of Colorado; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Dave has lifelong friends all over the country, as well as his Valley View Hospital team in Glenwood Springs, who all quickly became family.
Dave is preceded in death by his son David John in 1985; his mother and father, Howard and Lois Olson; and his father-in-law, LeRoy French.
A celebration of life will be Monday at 10 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado in Grand Junction at 2830 Riverside Parkway with a reception to follow at the VFW at 14th and Ute. All are welcome to attend. Condolences can be sent to P.O. Box 6220, Eagle, CO 81631.