Nature 18

Diana Eileen "Annie" Olson

May 12, 2021


On December 19, 1975, 16 year old Diana Dewey from Mahnomen, Minnesota, said she would like to go to the home basketball game with 18 year old Dave Olson. Being a good friend of her brother Joe, Dave asked if he would mind if he dated his sister. Joe said, “Sure, go ahead.” And so began a lasting relationship that would take two teenagers, whose family farmsteads were just 4 miles apart by snowmobile, through 7 years of dating, college, nearly 40 years of marriage, 4 children: Christopher, Martin, Annabel, and Abagayle our angel, elementary/middle/high school functions/sports/homework/graduations, various finance, accounting and management positions, to a moment when they would have to be separated by Annie’s death.
Annie’s passing has created a feeling of emptiness, a void within me that seems at this moment impossible to fill. She is my best friend, the love of my life, my spiritual mentor and guide. We have faced the many unknowns of typical marriages and also periods of great suffering; the death of Abagayle, our infant little girl March 23,1989 and Annie’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, December 7, 2015.
The death of Abagayle left us empty and searching. In the summer of 1989, I joined the Catholic Church and Annie’s dream of her entire family attending Mass and worshipping God together was fulfilled. Life after Abby’s death became the environment that brought our family into the Light of Jesus. Annie believed in the sanctity of all life and the importance of the family structure which increased her desire to draw closer to the Church. These things patterned her choices. Our children attended St. Croix Catholic School. Annie became involved with the Stillwater Catholic Workers to serve homeless women and children and increased her faith by attending Friday night soup suppers for community prayer and fellowship. She attended many educational opportunities at St. Michael's Church and studied the Catholic Catechism, various Church Encyclicals, the Bible, and accounts from the early Church Fathers. She was an avid reader of the lives of the Saints. Annie joined the Befriender Ministry that visits the elderly shut ins and brings them the Eucharist. Also, Annie was a wedding coordinator for many years at St. Michael’s Church and a lector for daily and Sunday mass.
All of these influences molded a new philosophy that nurtured her trust in Christ and reshaped her view of everyday life. It prepared her for that December 7th afternoon meeting with her doctor when he explained the results and the implications of her CAT scan.
Annie’s life post-diagnosis and between treatments was lived with activity. We journeyed on 12 different pilgrimages to places as close as Sister Maurella Schlise’s grave site in Mendota Heights, to the three Marian Shrines in Wisconsin, St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Our Lady of the Universe in Orlando and to the Holy Land. Annie was able to attend Marty and Kathy’s wedding, get to know her grandchildren Logan, Sophia, and Cora, attend Annabel’s PhD defense, and canoeing with the family on the St. Croix river. She often traveled to Sanibel Island and enjoyed spending time on the beach and making the sea birds fly as she ran along the water line.
Annie loved her family very much and had multiple visits with her parents Jan and Al who wintered in Arizona, she attended family gatherings with brother Rob and his wife Julie in Andover, traveled to sister Teri and husband Jerry’s home in California, spent time with her brother Joe and his wife Kathy in Mahnomen, she would visit her brother Luke and wife Nancy in Moorhead, MN and took a trip to Seattle to visit with her sister Barbie’s husband Chad a month after she was diagnosed and for their boys' (Austin and Wesley) graduation from high school and college. Her love for her nieces and nephews and their beautiful children brought her great joy.
As she neared the end of her life, her dependence on Jesus grew. Annie would tell me, “accept what has been placed before you and give praise to God.” Much joy filled her life embracing this realization, gift upon gift, ever drawing her closer to total dependence on Christ. Before she died, Annie was surrounded by her family, sons Chris and Marty and their wives, daughter Annabel, Annie’s mother Jan, brothers Luke and Joe and our three grandchildren. I was holding her hand when she passed. She physically suffered her last hour. We recited two of her favorite prayers, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary during this time of suffering. Individuals offered memories for her to hear.
Annie was surrounded by her family as she passed from her cross into Heaven. Her beauty and peaceful presence radiated from her as a single tear welled up in the corner of her eye. I can only imagine this was a tear of joy as she took the hand of Jesus and turned from her earthly suffering to Heavenly joy with Him.
May the soul of Annie Olson rest in the Peace of Christ.

“Funeral for Diana/Annie Olson” video can be viewed at the St. Michael’s Catholic Church Facebook page:
The live-stream video will appear when the service begins, and the complete video will be uploaded when the live-stream ends.

Memorial in Diana’s name can be made to St. Croix Catholic School for any needs or the Catholic Workers for repairs on our local houses of hospitality (memo line). Make checks payable to St. Michael’s Church of Stillwater, MN. Please also indicate “in memory of Diana Olson of Lindstrom, MN” in order to notify family of your gift in her honor.


The Wood of the Urn

The wood of the urn that houses the ashes of Diana came from Biloxi, Mississippi. David Olson accompanied the Catholic Workers to Biloxi to help rebuild houses following the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. While there, he collected several yellow pine tree logs that were flattened during the hurricane. The wood was dried and cut into planks for later woodworking projects. David and Martin used these boards to build two urns, one for Diana and another for David. This wood will connect these two in eternal life when the second follows the first. This wood represents service of those in need, St. Joseph the pillar of families, and our salvation in Christ crucified.

“Behold, behold the wood of the Cross on which is hung our salvation.” – Good Friday Hymn

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Diana Eileen "Annie" Olson, please visit our floral store.

Memorial Tree
A Memorial Tree was planted for Diana

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Memorial Mass
May 19, 2021

11:00 AM
Church of St. Michael
611 3rd St. S
Stillwater, MN 55082

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