James E. Olson, 73, of Emmett, Idaho, passed away Sunday Aug. 28, 2013, at a Meridian hospital with his wife by his side.
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Jim was born on Oct. 6, 1939, in Holden, Mass., the youngest of seven children born to Bror and Eva Olson. He was educated in the public schools of Worcester, Mass.
Jim joined the Air Force in 1958 and served for nine years. He had an extensive background in the munitions career field with permanent tours of duty at Goose Bay, Labrador; George AFB, California; and Ramstein Air Base, Germany. He had many temporary assignments in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and North Africa.
It was during his assignment in Germany that Jim met Billie Gardner, the new McDonnell Douglas secretary down the hall. Jim and Billie were married July 1, 1966, in Ramstein, Germany. After completing his tour in Germany, Jim decided to not re-enlist and instead elected to pursue a civil service career.
In September 1967, he and Billie moved to Utah where he began his new career at Hill AFB, Utah as an explosives safety specialist assigned to the former 2705th Airmunitions Wing. He was later assigned as the ammunition advisor to the Army G-4 Staff, Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), Tehran, Iran, in support of the Imperial Iranian Ground forces under the former Shah of Iran. Upon return from Iran, Jim had other assignments as the Explosives and Nuclear Safety Officer for Sacramento Air Logistics Center, McClellan AFB, Calif. and Warner Robins AFB, Ga.
In September 1975, Jim and Billie returned to Utah where once again he was assigned to the Airmunitions Management Division, Ogden AFB where he remained until retiring in November 1990. While there he was promoted as chief of the former Joint Ordnance Office and later as chief of the former Explosives Safety Requirements Branch, a position he held at retirement.
After retirement, Jim and Billie moved to Emmett where he became involved in volunteering. He was active in the Idaho Wildlife Federation and volunteered many hours on projects with the Bureau of Land Management and Idaho Fish and Game Department including chairing the Southwest Region Big Game Winter Feeding Advisory Committee in the 1990s.
Over the years Jim enjoyed camping, hunting and fishing. He and Billie shared many fond memories of their travels with their Golden Retriever, Ben and Gordon Setter, Riley.
Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Jim was inspired to install an American Flag on the scenic overlook on Freezeout Hill. He pursued his idea and, with the help of his wife and many others in the community, spearheaded the development of the Freezeout Hill Memorial. In doing so, he obtained the support of the American Legion Post 49 to be the sponsor for the project.
As an outgrowth of becoming a member of Post 49, Jim became active in the organization and was elected Adjutant and later Commander. During his leadership many enhancements were made to the Legion Hall both inside and out. He oversaw an extensive two year landscaping project that improved the grounds of the Legion Hall.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Paula and brothers, Donald and Robert.
He is survived by his wife Billie; sisters Jacqueline Bloise, Dorothy Johnson and Carol McKinley; sisters-in-law Elsie Olson and Carol Olson; and many nieces and nephews and his best friend, Mikey.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in Boise. Services are under the direction of the Potter Funeral Chapel in Emmett.
Memorials may be made in Jim's name to the Freezeout Hill Memorial Fund, c/o Potter Chapel, P.O. Box 697, Emmett, ID 83617.
Potter Funeral Chapel
228 East Main Street
Emmett, ID 83617
Published in Emmett Messenger Index from Aug. 21 to Sept. 20, 2013