Lowell W. Olson September 28, 1930 – July 28, 2014 Lowell W. Olson passed away peacefully in the evening of July 28, 2014 at the age of 83 after a short illness. He is survived by his sons, Theodore Reid Olson of Jacksonville, Florida and Frank Reid Olson of Tucker, Georgia; his grandsons, Stephen Reid Olson and Carter Andrew Olson; and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his wife, Stephanie Reid Ray Olson; his brothers Vernon Mark Olson and Reed Woolley Olson; and his sisters Lois Olson Larson and Alice Olson Walsh. Born in Salt Lake City in 1930 just as the Great Depression began, Lowell was a...
Lowell W. Olson
September 28, 1930 – July 28, 2014
Lowell W. Olson passed away peacefully in the evening of July 28, 2014 at the age of 83 after a short illness.
He is survived by his sons, Theodore Reid Olson of Jacksonville, Florida and Frank Reid Olson of Tucker, Georgia; his grandsons, Stephen Reid Olson and Carter Andrew Olson; and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his wife, Stephanie Reid Ray Olson; his brothers Vernon Mark Olson and Reed Woolley Olson; and his sisters Lois Olson Larson and Alice Olson Walsh.
Born in Salt Lake City in 1930 just as the Great Depression began, Lowell was a self-proclaimed “son of a bishop”, the youngest (and admittedly rowdiest) of 5 children born to Latter-day Saint Bishop Oscar Mark Olson and his wife, Grace Goddard Woolley. Those lean years, where Lowell’s father earned but “a nickel and a bucket of milk a week” and even had a paper route for decades as a second job to make ends meet, honed his self-reliance and superior work ethic, traits that lasted him his whole life long.
Lowell always charted his own path and seldom did what others expected of him. He often could be found escaping out the back of his father’s local Latter-day Saint chapel on Sunday mornings. At 15, a full year before he was legally able to drive, he saved up $600 ($7800 in today’s dollars, a feat for any 15-year-old) and bought his first car, a Ford Model T. He drove freely around the streets of Salt Lake City for that year despite having a “baby face” and no license, and hid the car from his parents down the street until he turned 16. According to him, they never found out about it. Lowell was extremely proud of his purchase and the freedom it gave him, despite the fact that its radiator constantly had to be filled with water and often needed a downhill slope to even get started.
Against the wishes of his parents who wanted him to go on his 2-year-long Latter-day Saint mission trip after high school, Lowell then enrolled in the University of Utah. At the “U” as he affectionately referred to it, he wooed many women, joined the Sigma Nu fraternity and became the chapter’s Treasurer, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. He completely financed his undergraduate education, working as many as 5 jobs at once to do so.
After college graduation, he enlisted in the United States Navy in 1953, graduating from Officer Candidate School in Rhode Island and earning the rank of Lieutenant. He was then stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He served aboard the seaplane tender USS Salisbury Sound as a Gunnery Officer, where he completed several tours of duty in the South China Sea. He made many friends in the Navy who referred to him affectionately as “Lo-Lo” or “Oley”. One of those many friends he made even helped him enroll in the Navy, by giving Lowell the eye chart to memorize in advance of his physical. Lowell’s extreme nearsightedness would have likely prevented his enlistment otherwise.
After an honorable discharge from the Navy, Lowell took a year to himself and traveled completely around the world on his own, hitchhiking for a good portion of it. He often recalled his travels, especially to Europe and India, with great fondness. He developed a special appreciation for Eastern religion and philosophy during his trip to India, and would often cite “the doctrine of the transmigration of souls” and quote verses from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
After returning home, he enrolled in Georgetown University Law School, earning his law degree in 1960. Before leaving law school, Lowell met the love of his life, Stephanie Reid Ray, at a party in Washington D.C. Lowell made such an impression on Stephanie the first time they met, that Stephanie went home that evening and immediately informed her roommate, "I'm going to marry that man!" A few short months later, she did exactly that. Stephanie and Lowell had two sons together, and remained passionately in love until her untimely death in 1980.
After the honeymoon, Lowell then worked as a Labor Reporter for Prentice-Hall Publishing Company and was assigned to the Washington, D.C. bureau, where he covered the U.S. Supreme Court, the National Labor Relations Board, and House and Senate Labor Committee meetings. He then worked as a trial attorney for the National Labor Relations Board in Houston, Texas before moving to Atlanta and becoming a partner at the labor law firm of Constangy, Brooks & Smith where he worked for over 20 years. Lowell retired early from the practice of law in 1985 and enjoyed a lengthy and exciting retirement filled with sailing, skiing, romance, driving his jet-black Porsche 911 Targa around Atlanta at high speeds, and spoiling his beloved grandsons Reid and Carter.
A service celebrating Lowell’s life will be held on Saturday, August 9, 2014 at H.M. Patterson & Son -Oglethorpe Hill Chapel, 4550 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, GA 30319 at 3:00 p.m., followed by a reception. Lowell will then be interred at the Salt Lake City Cemetery next to his older brother Vernon (“Vonnie”), of whom he was so fond.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation to Feed the Children, one of Lowell’s favorite charities.
The family would also like to thank all the doctors, nurses and staff at Emory Select Specialty Hospital who cared so well for Lowell in his final days.