Willard Orvin Olson
Willard Orvin Olson
  • May 9, 1933 - May 26, 2017
  • Idaho Falls, Idaho

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Willard Orvin Olson was born May 9, 1933 on a dairy farm near Dresser Wisconsin to Ole and Borghild Olson. He grew up on that farm and attended high school in Amery, WI. After high school, He attended the University Of River Falls where he majored in Physics and Chemistry. He and his future wife, Sally Malone, graduated in 1956.

After graduation, Willard went on to graduate school at Vanderbilt University and did his thesis work at the National Lab in Oak Ridge Tennessee, earning a Master of Health Physics. Willard and Sally met again in 1959, while both were taking a graduate mathematics course at the University of Minnesota. They married on September 9, 1961.

Sally and Willard began their married life in Mankato, Minnesota, where Willard taught physics at the University. Willard continued further graduate studies at Oregon State University in Corvallis. After completing his PhD In Nuclear Engineering, Willard accepted employment at the Idaho National Laboratory, and the family, now including 2 boys, John and Paul, moved to Idaho Falls in 1975.

Willard loved teaching and for the last part of his career at the INL, he taught new reactor operators the physics and fluid mechanics required for understanding a reactor's operation.

Willard was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to hunt and fish. He was a supporter of the Boy Scouts, acting as the transportation coordinator for Troop 382 for many years. He was also an avid photographer, especially of the outdoors. Willard and Sally enjoyed traveling, driving to the Wisconsin 1 to 2 times per year to visit family and regularly visiting their son and his family in San Diego.

Willard and Sally were music lovers and regularly attended concerts. The First Presbyterian Church was an important part of their lives, and many of their closest and dearest friends where connections made through the church. They were active in the church and its visitation ministry.

Willard is survived by two sons, Paul and John Olson, John's wife Maribel, and his grandson Alejandro Olson. He is also survived by his brother Paul Olson and sister Betty Connors. Willard was preceded in death by his wife, Sally Ann Olson, his parents, brother-in-law Eugene Connors and sister-in-law Gloria Olson.

Memorial services will be held at 2:00 p.m., Friday, June 2, 2017 at the Presbyterian Church, 325 Elm Street in Idaho Falls, with Reverend Cathy Chisholm officiating. A visitation will be held one half hour prior to the service. Online condolences for the family may be left at www.buckmillerhann.com.