On October 22nd, 2023 God called home William Martin Olson, son of Mary Lou and Martin Olson, a devoted husband of 50 years, a father of two, a grandfather to five, and a beloved brother. Those who loved him knew him by many names. In whatever capacity you knew him, you knew that Olie was a selfless provider. Billy never gave up a fight. Grandpa made you laugh on your worst day. Dad gave you the most genuine advice. Even the man once known as Wild Bill improved countless lives through medicine.
From humble beginnings in Bradford, Pennsylvania to tumultuous adolescent years in Fairfield, Illinois, and onward to adulthood in St. Louis, Missouri, Bill was shaped by the people he loved. He knew loss at an early age with the passing of his father, Martin. He was always the new kid, sometimes the short kid, but always the kid that never quit. Bill admired his big sister Dee Dee as she cared for him and brother Randy while mother worked arduous nursing shifts. He came from a family that knew devotion to God, to one another, and to hard work. Bill passed those traits to each and every person through whom he is survived.
Then, college happened. The Saint Louis College of Pharmacy endowed Bill with not only the keys to helping and healing others…but to hone his comic timing and find the love of his life. Wild Bill was a leader, a dear friend, and the life of the party (anyone remember “I.V. Man”)? There he met his lovely wife of half a century, Mary, and they made St. Louis their home.
Son Eric came along in the mid-70’s, Daughter Kristen came along in the mid-80’s. Bill’s mentorship throughout the years enabled both to become masters in their field and to give back with five loving grandchildren, growing a strong family that genuinely cares for one another despite the bumps…just like the one he grew up with.
We would be remiss if we failed to mention “golf” in this brief story of Bill’s life. Yes, golf. The sport was his passion but was both a blessing and a curse. All who played with Bill know how bad he was, possibly the world’s highest scoring, yet avid golfer! Each outing was something special to Bill; not just a simple ritual. If you spent time with him on the course, you were making a lasting memory. Lord knows you couldn’t find a better person with whom to finish a round.
Dad’s round may be over, but he left us all with a great gift, one that we should cherish. Despite all his pharmaceutical training, he knew laughter was the best medicine. Grandpa was a prolific storyteller who carried thousands of tales of a life well-lived from Bradford, Pennsylvania, to Fairfield, Illinois, through Philadelphia, Detroit, Little Rock, and back to his true homestead in St. Louis. Those stories are legend in our family, something that we all carry with us to keep his memory alive, to teach our children, and to keep us going in our worst times.
Bill is survived by his wife Mary, son Eric and his wife Ady, daughter Kristen and her husband Kevin, sister Deanna (Joe), brother Randy (Connie), and grandchildren Elizabeth, Katherine, Ben, Penny, and Teddy. He is also survived by several cousins, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. Fairways and Greens, Bill, we will miss you dearly.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a memorial donation in William’s name to one of the following: Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, or Evelyn's Hospice House.