CHIMACUM — Lloyd Olson, a former superintendent of the Chimacum School District who oversaw the renovations of the high school and what is now the middle school, has died.
Olson died of natural causes at his home in Cle Elum on Sunday, his family said. He was 84.
A remembrance service is scheduled for noon Sunday at the Putnam Centennial Center in Cle Elum.
Olson was the superintendent in Chimacum from 1976 until he retired in 1989.
“I think that’s the longest someone has been superintendent since I think the 1950s,” said Mike Gould, president of the board of directors for Chimacum School District.
Olson rallied the community to pass a levy that funded the construction of two new buildings on campus, friends said. The levy passed in 1979 by only two votes.
“It was a real challenge to pass a levy in Chimacum in the late ’70s,” said John Olson, one of Lloyd Olson’s sons. “It provided some financial stability that the district hadn’t had previously.”
Bernie Mueller, who was the grade school principal while Olson served as superintendent, said it was Olson’s connection to the community and his sense of humor that made his work possible.
“He got along very well with the community, which is important in a small community,” Mueller said. “He had a great personality, very easygoing, and I think his humor carried him a long way.”
Mueller said Olson’s collaborative work with the school board and neighboring school districts helped make education a top issue in the county.
“He was such a strong leader in a time when our county was a lot smaller,” Gould said. “He was a big fish in a small pond, and he inspired a lot of teachers who stayed in the district a long time.”
Olson also inspired four of his seven children to pursue careers in education.
“We saw the difference you could make and how he inspired a lot of kids,” said John Olson. “We’ve heard from so many people who he helped. It’s just really cool to hear from parents and students alike that my dad really helped them.”
John Olson is the vice president for advancement at Everett Community College.
“He was a very likeable person,” Mueller said. “His goals were realistic and he understood our problems. He wasn’t asking for the pie in the sky, but he was a hard worker, no question. We got a lot of things done when you think about how small our district was.”
Olson is survived by his wife of 60 years, Dorothy, as well as his seven children, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Olson was born in Minnesota but moved to Washington, where he grew up. He graduated from high school in Cle Elum in 1951 and joined the Navy during the Korean War.
After his military service, Olson earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education and began teaching at Franklin Elementary in Pullman. He then went on to serve as the Franklin Elementary principal before moving to Prescott and then Chimacum to work as superintendent.
Olson retired to Cle Elum, where he continued to be active in his community and assisted with school levy campaigns, filled in as a substitute principal and helped create a veterans wall in downtown Cle Elum.
The Olson family has asked that instead of flowers, people make a donation to help fight muscular dystrophy, which one of Olson’s grandchildren suffers from. Memorial donations can be made to Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, P.O. Box 190, Cle Elum, WA 98922, or made online at lloydolsonmemorial.blogspot.com.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected].