Lemley Chapel
Serving Sedro-Woolley &
All of Skagit County Since 1935
1008 Third Street
Sedro-Woolley, WA
Elsie Jane Olson Memorial
Elsie Jane Olson Memorial

Elsie Jane Olson

Elsie Jane Olson

Sunday, July 3rd, 2022

Our Mother, Elsie Jane Willcox Olson, passed at the age of 101 on July 3, 2022, just missing her 102nd birthday by 2 weeks.  Elsie was born July 17, 1920 in North Norwich, New York to Helen Sylvia (Kinney) and Clarence Gardner Willcox.

She was preceded in death by her husband (the best father 4 girls could ever have), Earl Robert Olson, in 1991.  Three siblings also preceded our mother in death:  Ann Zuris and Alen and Edmond Willcox.

Mother is survived by her daughters and their husbands:  Sylvia and Robert Olson of Olympia, Dolores and Tom Holtcamp of Sedro-Woolley, Suzanne Cheadle of Mt. Vernon (husband Rich recently passed in 2021), and Genora and Paul Powell of Burlington.  Elsie’s daughters gifted her with eight grandchildren.  Jenny Taylor Sandbo, William and Andrew Cook, Jacob and Lisa Cheadle, Sarah Sacksteader, Robert Hilsinger and Clinton Holtcamp; and six great grandchildren.

Mother believed her years growing up on a farm in the Chenango Valley of Central New York State played a central role in shaping her adult persona.  Her childhood was especially fun and educational as a result of belonging to and taking an active part in a 4H club that received wide recognition for excellence and innovation throughout New York state.

Our Mother loved life and had many interests.  She found bridge a fascinating challenge and always looked forward to the camaraderie and competition of afternoon foursomes.  She was the Queen of family Scrabble and rarely allowed an errant word to be seated on the board.  She was a dealer in foreign stamps for twelve years and managed the large volumes of complicated data without using a computer.  She retired from her stamp business in 2003.

Mother was a writer and spent many hours behind a typewriter.  Locally she had many free-lance articles published in the Burlington Journal and the Mount Vernon Herald.  Besides these, her column Thinking Shears ran for a number of years in the latter.  We girls and Dad were very proud of Mom’s literary skills and were especially pleased when she was awarded 1st place in an international Christmas essay contest sponsored by Royal Dutch Shell.

Elsie was the consummate hostess.  She entertained large family gatherings in the beautiful home build by Earl on North Caroline Street in Burlington.  Her family all agreed that Mother made the very best Blueberry and Cherry pies.  Christmas was extra special for Mom.  She would begin purchasing gifts for every family member in the spring and would not finish wrapping until the night before Christmas.  The ritual of unwrapping, announcing and recording would begin at 8:00am and conclude as late as 4 pm when dinner preparation would begin.  Mother was always supportive and gave unconditional love to her girls and family.  As much as Mom loved to entertain, she also loved to be entertained, especially by her daughters.  Slumber parties, birthday parties complete with background scenery, masks, costumes and games, entertained Elsie and “the girls” until Covid restrictions prevented us from gathering.  When Dad was alive, she loved to spend time with him on the back patio surrounded by his vibrant gardens.  Elsie always dressed beautifully, and weekends often found her and Earl on the dance floor.  They were beautiful dancers.  Earl would lead in their own special dance step and mother would tilt her head just slightly.

After Dad retired Mom and Dad travelled the world touching five continents, floating two of the world’s longest rivers, and riding the world’s longest direct railroad.  Elsie continued to travel well into her late 80’s with family and friends.

Mother would be chagrined if we sent this obituary to print without mentioning her constant companions for the better part of the past two decades: Golden, her loving golden lab retriever, and Purr Pur her bashful cat.  She also insisted any use of the word travelling and her Maiden name of Willcox be spelled with two ll’s, the former because it is the correct spelling in Great Britain.

A private memorial service for family members will be held for Elsie at a later date.  Arrangements are under the care of Lemley Chapel, Sedro-Woolley.  Share your memories of Elsie and sign the online guest register.    Instead of flowers the family suggests donating to your favorite charity.

Mother will forever be precious in our memories.


  • Mirian

    I took care of Elsie at COUNTRY MEADOW VILLAGE, She always liked to wear her fancy clothes, very sweet lady ❤

  • Genora Powell

    My sisters and I would like to thank each one of you for your postings and the personal cards we have received. Each one has meant much to us. Mother lived a long good life but that has made it even harder to be without her. When I received the first sympathy card the reality hit and it was a blessing to shed the tears.
    I am thankful for all the special moments I have shared with my mother and I so look forward to joining her someday and beginning a new journey.

    I Dedicate this beautiful writing of John O’Donohue to my mother, Elsie J. Willcox Olson

    Though we need to weep your loss, you dwell in that safe place in our hearts
    Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.
    Your love was like the dawn brightening over our lives, awakening beneath the dark a further adventure of color. The sound of your voice found for us a new music that brightened everything.
    Whatever you enfolded in your gaze quickened in the joy of its being; you placed smiles like flowers on the altar of the heart. Your mind always sparkled with wonder at things.
    Though your days here were brief, your spirit was alive, awake, complete.
    We look toward each other no longer from the old distance of our names; now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath, as close to us as we are to ourselves.
    Though we cannot see you with outward eyes, we know our souls gaze is upon your face, smiling back at us from within everything to which we bring our best refinement.
    Let us not look for you only in memory, where we would grow lonely without you. You would want us to find you in presence, beside us when beauty brightens, when kindness glows and music echoes eternal tones.
    When orchids brighten the earth, darkest winter has turned to Spring; may this dark grief flower with hope in every heart that loves you.
    May you continue to inspire us; to enter each day with a generous heart. To serve the call of courage and live until we see your beautiful face again and that land where there is no more separation, where all tears will be wiped from our mind, and where we will never lose you again.

    On the death of the beloved by John O’Donohue, (to bless the space between us 🌹a book of blessings)

  • Jane O'Brien

    I only met Elsie in person once and was so impressed with her talents and generosity in serving a delicious home made lunch with one of her famous pies for dessert. Elsie was interested in graphology and allowed me to analyze her handwriting and then discussed the outcome. She was courageous in giving me the opportunity to know her in this way. Her influence on her four daughters will attest to the wonders of this great lady. She will be greatly missed.

  • Gretchen Barden

    What a wonderful life your Mother had! I do not remember her like Lisa and Katie might.
    I do have memories of the girls and know that she was truly blessed!

  • Judy W Dean

    I never really knew Aunt Elsie that well. She and Earl came to visit once in the mid 80’s. She was my fathers younger sister. She did a lot with the family genealogy. Her Grandmother lived to be 93 I believe. Good genes.

  • Mari Gundersen Nelson

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady. I remember being in grade school and thinking Mrs. Olson was like a Queen, so pretty, smartly dressed and regal. Condolences to all the Olson girls and their families.

  • Kathy Lorenzen Thomson

    Mrs Olson was such a gracious lady! She raised her daughters to also be gracious. As a friend of her daughter I always felt welcomed in their home. She was our first Bluebirds leader, which got many of us started as long-time Campfire Girls.

  • LaJune Bromels

    I was blessed to have known Elsie in her latter years as a bridge player and friend. Her graciousness always abounded in her playing and hostessing. I shall treasure my memories.

  • Stella Zuris Mallon

    My Aunt Elsie was always kind to me. She was my Mother’s sister.

  • Rob Kohler

    What a truly gracious and upright lady. Healing thoughts and prayers for all the Family.