In Loving Memory of Barbara Ann Olson: 1944-2021


Barbara Ann Olson, 77, of Spokane passed away at her home surrounded by family on Nov. 11, 2021. Barbara was born in Seattle, Washington on Jan. 25, 1944 to George and Helen Murdock. She married her Toledo grade-school sweetheart Keith Olson (deceased) and they are survived by four children, Kurt Olson (Amanda) of Napavine, Hans Olson of Spokane, Bart Olson (Niki) of Spokane, and Paula Donway (Chris) of Vancouver. 

Barbara graduated from Toledo High School and Linfield College. She earned a master’s degree in education from Gonzaga University. She and Keith initially resided in Toledo where Barbara taught school and coached track. The opportunity arose for Keith and Barbara to move to Australia for two years where she taught school and Keith sold heavy equipment. For over 50 years, Barbara still adorned the family Christmas tree with the wooden ornaments she was given by friends from Australia. 

Barbara was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Spokane for over 50 years, serving as a deacon. She enjoyed reading, spending time with her family and friends, and decorating her home that she and Keith built nearly monthly as the seasons changed. She also loved working outside in her beautiful yard. 

Not one pinecone on the manicured lawn could escape her scan. Barbara loved writing letters to people nearly every day to let them know she was thinking of them. She also had the ongoing assignment of playing the piano for the annual Christmas caroling party. Barbara took time-off initially from teaching to raise her children, but after Keith passed away, she returned to teaching at Cheney Middle School and eventually retired from Westwood Middle School. 

Travel was a lifelong ambition for Barbara. She visited her father’s native land of Scotland seven times with her parents. She thought nothing of loading up and driving alone across the state to see grandkids. She once reported to her children that she had, unbeknownst to them, lown to Miami, bussed to flDallas, flew to Denver, and bussed home to Spokane just to see a bit of the country. In retirement, her first trip was to the Shetland Islands because of an article she had read. One of her favorite annual trips was to Cape Cod to see her good friend Robyn’s family. 

Barbara’s giving and caring nature will be deeply missed by all that knew her. The door to Castle Brae was always open to welcome whomever stopped by. 

Barbara is survived by her four children and six grandchildren, Mackenzie (25), Mollie (22), Keith (18), Clay (18), Bjorn (15) and Cal (15). A private graveside memorial will be held in December and the family will host a celebration of life in May at Barbara’s home. 

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