In Memoriam: Dawn Allison Olson (June 21, 1958 – Aug. 12, 2022)

October 2022 Posted in Obituary

Dawn Olson

“Dynamic Dawn,” a dear best friend, died suddenly at the age of 64, due to unknown natural causes. A great teacher, her compassion for conservation was ardent. She was an avid volunteer, and she worked diligently to make earth a better place. “Volunteering is finding out where our heart belongs” was one of her favorite sayings.

She was born to Air Force veterans Dorothy J. (Atwood) and Benjamin T. Williams on June 21, 1958. She was the only girl between her brothers James and Matthew. Growing up she reached for relief through books and this refuge continued through her life, as did her love of horses. 

After graduating from Laconia High School, New Hampshire in 1977 she joined the U.S. Navy. She was an Ocean Systems Technician, and trained in leadership and management, going on to be an instructor. She received awards and commendations. While stationed in Bermuda, she volunteered as a tour guide, but her favorite duty station was Eleuthera, the Bahamas.

She met Barry Lee Olson while in the Navy and they married on June 30, 1982. After retirement they moved to his hometown of Silverton, Oregon. She enrolled in college and graduated from Oregon State University in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology (Cell Biology).

She began work at OHSU and eventually returned to her alma mater to work in Skeletal Cell Biology focusing on Osteoporosis research. She collected and processed data which led to co-authoring at least 15 publications. A favorite part of her job was education of the next generation of scientists and physicians, supervising and training them in laboratory techniques for research projects.

In 1995 Dawn joined the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA) and as the league’s Silverton chapter president, she worked tirelessly to mobilize the local chapter on pressing conservation challenges across the state. 

From national director, to serving on the executive board, she will be remembered most for her selfless leadership and commitment to achieving the mission. 

She is survived by her brother Matthew Williams.

Military Honors ceremony and circle of close friends gathering was held Oct. 8 to celebrate her life.

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