Shirley Jean Olsen
02/02/1923 – 12/19/2021
Obituary For Shirley Jean Olsen
Shirley Jean Armstrong Olsen passed away in Tacoma, Washington on December 19, 2021 from complications from pneumonia. She was born in Modesto, California on February 2, 1923 to Juanita Rose and James Armstrong. She will be greatly missed by her family and friends, and the staff and residents of Goshen Adult Family Home.
Shirley grew up in Modesto and graduated from Modesto High School. She attended Modesto Junior College and San Francisco State College. Among other courses, she took Semantics with S.I. Hayakawa. As a young woman, Shirley moved to San Francisco, a city that she loved and spent most of her life in. Recently she moved to Tacoma where she lived at Goshen Adult Family Home.
Shirley’s early working life included work during World War II at the Ferry Building in San Francisco for the War Department, taking the photos of young men as soldiers heading off to fight the war in the Pacific. She was a free spirit who loved to ballroom dance, teaching at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio. She also worked at the San Francisco Chronicle, typing ads, and at an engineering firm. Since she loved children, she successfully started her own business as a day care provider, which generated a loyal following that continued for over 40 years.
As a single, working Mom, Shirley raised two children. She loved poems, piles of books, and beignets. She was a great believer in the power of therapy and was an ambivalent Unitarian. She was an authentic personality with eclectic tastes. She had a passion for gardening and enjoyed nature throughout her life.
Shirley is survived by her son Bruce, daughter Julie, grandchildren Gavin, Brian, and Mikki; and great-grandchildren, Piper Jo, Eleanor, and Ezra. In lieu of flowers we urge you to support one of Shirley’s favorite charities: Doctors without Borders or the Sierra Club.
Shirley chose terramation instead of cremation or burial. (She chose the “…dust to dust” option.) Around the end of February 2022, we will have 12 to 15 bags (10 lbs. each) of compost available to share with you to nourish a garden, grow a rose, plant a tree in her memory. Please let us know if you would like one.
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