James M. Olson (Jim) of The Villages, Florida passed away peacefully on Wednesday January 6, 2021 due to complications from the Covid-19 virus at the age of 79.
Jim was born on February 11, 1941 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Fred and Margaret (Johnson) Olson, the eldest of 5 children. He graduated from Pius XI High School in Milwaukee and went on to graduate from Marquette University with a degree in Electrical Engineering. Jim also attended Naval postgraduate school in Monterey, California.
Jim worked for Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) as an Electrical Engineer in multiple capacities and multiple locations, including Great Lakes, IL, Philadelphia, PA, and Charleston, SC, rising to Design Division Director of the Southern Region before retiring in 1993. Jim received multiple accolades and awards for his hard work, culminating in the Department of Navy Civilian Meritorious Service Award in 1988.
In 1985, Jim married Priscilla Hardy, the woman who was his best friend, confidante, and biggest supporter. They lived in Ladson, South Carolina, outside of Charleston until their retirement, at which time they moved to the mountains of North Georgia. In 2010 Jim convinced Priscilla to move to The Villages, Florida where they enjoyed being able to play golf year round.
Jim was the proud father of 4 children, Cheryl, John, Nancy, and Tom, with his first wife JoAnn DeGaetano, to whom he was married from 1964 to 1974. He grew to be a supportive father who was known to drop everything to be there when the going got tough. One of his greatest joys was becoming a Grandpa and when several of his children became stepparents, Jim welcomed each and every one of those grandchildren and great-grandchildren into his life as one of his own as well.
After retirement Jim took up woodworking and his family and friends became the recipients of many beautiful works, including pieces of furniture, toys large & small, mementos that remain treasured pieces, and cradles for his grandchildren that are expected to stand the test of time and be passed down through the generations.
Jim was an avid golfer, achieving three holes in one over his lifetime, one in North Georgia and two at The Villages. He thoroughly enjoyed sharing his love of golf with his wife, children and grandchildren.
Music was one of Jim’s greatest passions throughout his life. He played the accordion, drums, and organ and loved listening to all things music. Jim had the ability to play by ear, could improvise simple chord changes to bring about a personal element to his music, and had an amazing sense of rhythm, melody, and phrasing. He was a member of multiple bands over his lifetime, most recently as the accordion player for the Butterbean Band in The Villages.
In 1990, Jim’s life was turned around by his introduction to Alcoholic’s Anonymous (AA) and he would go on to live the remaining 30+ years of his life clean and sober and volunteering countless hours to helping others struggling with the disease of alcoholism. His compassion, presence, strength, and wisdom were a beacon of light to many during their own times of darkness. Jim’s wife and family are forever grateful for the positive influence AA had on Jim and the entire family.
Jim was man of few words, but when he spoke it was with wisdom and truth, with more than a little sarcasm thrown in for good measure. He had a dry sense of humor and a quick wit. He was a lifelong Marquette University Golden Eagles Basketball fan.
Jim is survived by his wife of 35 years, Priscilla (Hardy) Olson, his children Cheryl (David) Gibson, John (Keri) Olson, Nancy Olson, and Thomas (Kristen Davis) Olson, grandchildren Joshua Gibson, Benjamin Gibson, Shelby Wilson, Julia Olson, Larry James Olson, Josie Olson, Chelsea Johnson, Dylan Davis, Isabel Davis, and Bill Davis, brothers Robert (Wendy) Olson and David (Denise) Olson, sisters-in-law Deanna Olson and Nance’ Eaton, as well step grandchildren, step great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, and other beloved friends and relatives. He was predeceased by his parents Fred and Margaret Olson, his sister Margaret Mary Falk, and his brother Richard Olson.
A virtual memorial service is planned via Zoom on Saturday January 16. 2021 at 5:30 pm ET. Meeting ID: 817 6867 6636, Passcode: Jim. A private burial will be held at a later date when it is again safe to gather in person.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Jim’s name to Northeast Georgia CASA, 11 N. Sage Street, Taccoa, GA 30577 (or on-line at northeastasao ) or to the charity of one’s choice.