Obituary: Richard W. Olson Jr.

November 16, 1949 - January 9, 2019


This is me reincarnated. Born Nov. 16, 1949 at the Presidio in San Francisco, son of Richard W. Olson Sr., a career Army officer, and Eurless Okert. The family lived in many places during and immediately after the Korean War, eventually settling in Port Townsend where Rich was active in sports, sailing, climbing, Explorer scouts, and making loud noises in a garage band. He graduated from Port Townsend High School in 1968 and enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard where he served as an E-5 Boatswain’s Mate and a small boat coxswain. Following discharge he attended Peninsula College studying journalism and earning an AA degree in 1974.

Mountaineering and technical rock climbing took him throughout the western United States and Canada, and he climbed in Ecuador in 1975. He was involved in Seattle Mountain Rescue and Olympic Mountain Rescue and participated in hundreds of SAR missions. He taught mountaineering classes at the University of Washington and Peninsula College, introducing many students to the vertical world and mentoring their first tentative steps. For a time was a mountain guide. He had intimate knowledge of the Olympic Mountains and made several first and first-winter ascents.

He began his career with the National Park Service during the C-141 crash search and recovery in 1975. He accumulated nearly 35 years of federal service, all at Olympic National Park, and served under seven superintendents. His primary duties were in aviation and fire management, forestry and natural resources positions. He was the project lead in the aerial capture of mountain goats which he said was “the stupidest thing I ever did” and called the effort “killing mountain goats so they won’t die.” His last major project was field research and planning for habitat restoration and revegetation following the removal of the Elwha River dams.

Following retirement he worked as a security officer at Olympic Medical Center and became active in stage lighting design for community theater. His other interests included fly-tying, books, sailing his one-design dinghy, collecting bad art, model railroading and attempting to play the music of Leo Kottke on guitar. He enjoyed making food for friends. In recent years he re-learned how to use a sewing machine. He never learned how to waltz or make a decent pie crust.

He had an attraction to cats and would quote the French philosopher Rousseau who said that a love of dogs showed a servile nature, while a love of cats was a true sign of a democratic spirit. He stated he liked cats so much he should be put down as a communist.

Rich was preceded in death by his parents; Richard W. Olson Sr. (1922-2017), and Eurless Olson Boughton (1929-2018).

He is survived by his sister, Nora (Dean) Taylor Murayama, Shelter Island, Alaska; niece, Megan Murayama, Osaka, Japan; nephew, Simon Murayama, Shelter Island, Alaska.

At his request no services. Remembrances may be made to the Soulumination Foundation, Seattle, Washington.


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Tom Camfield

That is one exceptionally great obituary!

| Thursday, February 28, 2019