Warren E. Olson

  • "My condolences to Warren's family. I remember one of his..."
    - Sue Foley
  • "Thinking of you all at this time of loss. I really didn't..."
    - Tracy Boyer
  • "Some of the best conversations I've ever had were with..."
  • "I remember your dad's smile,laugh,humor and wit. I wish you..."
    - Ted Pearson
  • "Mr. Olson, dad of Rev. Berthold, my then-roommate Craig,..."
    - Joseph Newland

Passed away on the evening of September 7, 2009 at home in Santa Rosa from complications from a fall. He died surrounded by his loving family, wife Maurine, children Jeff, Marcy, Reverend Berthold (Craig) and son-in-law Steve Kirk. He is survived by his sister Kathy Cloyd of Frankfort, KY. Warren was born in Evanston, IL in March 1925. He left high school in 1943 to join the army and fight in World War II, earning a silver star for single-handedly capturing 40 Germans behind enemy lines and walking them back to the American side. Warren earned a purple heart for being shot through the chest by a German sniper while engaged in clean-up operations in a small town in Belgium. He was sent to a VA hospital in Denver to recuperate from his wound, and on a pass from the hospital he met the love of his life Maurine at a VJ Day dance. After their first date she went home and told her best friend she'd met the man she was going to marry. They celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary in August, 2009. Warren went to college on the GI Bill, and over eight years earned a BA, a MA in philosophy, and a PhD in American Studies. In 1955 he took a job at Chico State College where he stayed until 1962 when he was hired to start the philosophy department at the new Sonoma State College as its first Professor of Philosophy and Humanities. Intrigued with the possibilities offered by interdisciplinary education, in 1969 Warren started Sonoma State's second cluster college - The Robert Maynard Hutchins School of Liberal Studies. He served as provost and then professor in the Hutchins School until his full retirement in 1991. During the 1960s Warren was active in the peace movement in Santa Rosa, helping organize peace marches and speaking out against the war in Vietnam. He participated in the successful effort to keep a nuclear reactor from being constructed on Bodega Head. Warren was a founding member of the local ACLU chapter and fought for social justice with a vibrantly rational passion. He was also passionate about good martinis and red wine, backpacking, traveling in Europe, and spirited dialogue with friends and family. After his retirement he bought a set of Ludwig drums and spent the next 13 years renewing his junior high love of Dixieland jazz. Warren played as often as he could, and for many years could be found monthly on Sunday afternoons laying down the beat for T.R.A.D J.A.S Society pick-up bands. Gifts in Warren's memory may be made to the "Warren E. Olson Scholarship" Development Office, SSU, 1801 E Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, CA 94928.
Published Online in the Press Democrat from Sept. 13 to Sept. 14, 2009
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