Cover photo for Marjorie Reed Olson's Obituary
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1933 Marjorie 2023

Marjorie Reed Olson

February 5, 1933 — May 7, 2023

Sun Prairie

Marjorie “Marj” Reed Olson, a strong, intelligent, modern woman who recently celebrated her 90th birthday, passed away peacefully Sunday, May 7, 2023, at her home in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.

The fourth of five children, Marj was born February 5, 1933, to Lavada Voskamp Reed and Paul Revere Reed in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Marj loved her family, her school, and she especially relished summers at the family cottage in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Smiling and spirited as a teenager, there was often a mischievous twinkle in her eye as she, her three sisters and brother crashed into the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, frolicked in the sand, and enjoyed Marj’s favorite treat, salt water taffy from Dolle’s on the boardwalk.

Marj attended Winchester Thurston School, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned her bachelor’s degree in 1955 from an all-women’s college, Hood College, Frederick, Maryland.

Over the years, Marj grew into a strong, feminist-before-her-time woman who craved independence, education, fine automobiles (her favorites were Packard motor cars and all convertibles) and driving. Following graduation from Hood, she and her sister, Peggy, embarked on a cross-country road trip that would lead Marj to a new life and location.

She met Airman John Olson, who was stationed at Lowry Air Force Base while she was attending nursing school in Denver, Colorado. The couple married June 22, 1956, and moved to Orlando Air Force Base, Orlando, Florida, eventually moving to Olson’s home state of Wisconsin after his discharge in 1958.

In addition to raising the couple’s four children, Marj was a lifelong learner, community and political supporter, and outdoor enthusiast. She helped build the Olson family cabin on Crescent Lake near Rhinelander, earned her teaching certificate at UW-Stevens Point, led her husband’s statewide campaign for public office, taught French in Lake Geneva, served on the Lake Geneva Board of Education, drove a school bus, became a foster mom to a young boy with severe cognitive and physical disabilities, raised pure-bred English bulldogs, along the way serving as a role model for her family and those who knew her. She battled serious health challenges; first blastomycosis and later three different cancers, rarely complaining and always moving forward. After a painful divorce in 1992, she moved to the family cabin to live in the woods that she cherished. More recently, as her health declined, she moved to Sun Prairie.

Marj is deeply missed by her four children, Sheree Olson (Pete) Rogers, Neenah, Wisconsin; John Gary (Kim) Olson, Kenosha, Wisconsin; Dwight Terrence Terry” (Carol) Olson, Johnson Creek, Wisconsin; and Lawrence Michael Larry” (Jeany) Olson, Dorchester, Wisconsin; by her sister Margaret Mack “Peggy” Smith, Asheville, North Carolina; as well as her grandchildren Erica, Kelsey, Evan, Nick, Jarrod, Ellie, Mike, and Jake, their spouses, and eight great grandchildren.

Preceding Marj in death were her much-loved father and mother, her brother Paul, and sisters Nancy and Betsy; her ex-husband, and his parents and siblings who adored her.

A private memorial service for family and close friends will be held this summer near Crescent Lake. In lieu of flowers, Marj’s family encourages donations to the American Cancer Society, or a charitable organization close to your heart.

Cress Funeral Home-- Sun Prairie


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