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Obituaries » Mary A. Olsen

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July 20, 1924 - October 2, 2016

In accordance with her wishes Mary’s body has been cremated and a memorial service will be held on October 29, 2016 with time and location to be announced.

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Mary Alice (Symes) Olsen, born on Sunday, July 20, 1924 passed away peacefully at Rose Arbor Hospice early Sunday, October 2, 2016. She was the fifth of nine children born in Detroit to Myrtle and George Symes. She loved her large family and always remarked on what a wonderful childhood she enjoyed. This extended to cousins in Canada with whom she often played during summer vacations at a family cottage in Rondeau Park, Ontario. These family gatherings always provided many happy and precious memories. Following graduation from Redford High School in Detroit, Mary began work as a secretary just following the outbreak of WWII. It was the first of several different work assignments, all of which she enjoyed and performed well, in varied locations around the United States.

On October 25, 1948 she married Odin (Tom) Olsen. This was a union lasting 63 yrs. and it resulted in Mary gaining a daughter named Virginia (Ginger) Marie and Tom acquiring a son, Michael John. Since Tom Olsen was a career Army officer who served in both WWII & Korea, life was full of adventure, travel, and frequent moves. The family lived in Kentucky, Texas and several places in Michigan, as well as some lengthy international assignments in Germany and Japan. After completing his military career Tom and Mary moved to Melbourne, Florida where they resided until Tom’s death in 2010. They created a happy and active life for themselves in Florida, which was frequently enriched by visits from their children and grandchildren.

During their years in Florida, Mary worked as a secretary for the Harris Corporation, an aerospace and defense contractor. Her winning personality and excellent work record ultimately resulted in promotion enabling her to serve as an Administrative Assistant in the company.

Mary loved the outdoors and a variety of sports activities, especially tennis, golf, and bowling. She had a sharp mind and a passion for crossword puzzles, bridge, and other similar pursuits. Somehow she also found time for oil painting, needlework of various kinds, and playing both the piano and organ. The latter activities provided special entertainment and enjoyment for her grandchildren, especially granddaughters Heather and Valerie for whom she often made up special songs. They really loved it when she would perform songs like “Alley Cat” on the organ thus giving them free rein to dance around the house.

The hallmarks of Mary’s life were kindness, sociability, and loving devotion to family—qualities that were manifested in so many ways perhaps most notably in the kind, tender care she provided for her husband Tom in the years after he lost his vision. Such qualities were freely shared with all who were blessed to know her. Indeed she epitomized the nursery rhyme, which characterizes “Sunday’s child as bonnie and blithe, good and gay.” She will be sorely missed but lovingly remembered.

Mary was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Tom, her son, Mike, six of her nine siblings and a great grandson, Bobby Carlsen. She is survived by her daughter, Ginger (Charles) Spaniolo, daughter in-law Rdee Olsen, granddaughters Heather (Rishi) Rawat and Valerie Johnson, as well as great-grandchildren Catherine and Peter Carlsen and Laura and James Johnson. Also surviving are her brother, Charles (Chuck) Symes and a sister, Anne Mitchell, sister-in-law, Elaine Symes and many nieces and nephews.