Shirley M. Olson
Shirley M. Olson died on Jan. 1, 2021 in Anchorage, Alaska where she had moved last fall to be near her children, Kevin and Stephanie. Shirley was born March 11, 1933, to Edwina and Bannon McCall in Oklahoma City. She married Herb Olson in 1972.
Shirley taught English at Laurel Senior High School for over 30 years.
During her teaching career, she parented, earned a Masters' Degree from the University of Montana, wrote poetry and prose, taught writing to other teachers, traveled, camped, hiked, and influenced hundreds of Laurel high school students, many of whom stayed in touch with her well into their own adult lives.
Shirley instilled a lifelong passion for nature in Kevin and Stephanie. She took them into the outdoors at every opportunity to fish, ski, hike, camp and explore all that nature has to offer. In later years, she loved to spend time with her children, their spouses and their families on her trips to Alaska and during their visits to Laurel. After retirement, she enjoyed hosting the Atheneum school students from Alaska including her grandchildren Julianna, Sergio, Maria and Michael.
Shirley was an accomplished pianist, teacher, a voracious reader, writer and advocate for social justice. Her students and friends share stories about how she changed their lives for the better by nurturing their hopes and dreams, encouraging them to think, read and go to college. She inspired her many students, colleagues, friends and family with her brilliance and empathy.
A lifelong Methodist, Shirley valued her church community and enjoyed playing the piano for the congregation at Laurel Methodist Church for many years. She was deeply spiritual and practiced gratitude daily. She believed above all that that we must love one another, and she demonstrated this throughout her life.
Shirley's life was rich and beautiful. With the help of her neighbors, Don and Shirley Cahill, and many friends, she lived independently at home in Laurel until age 86. She delighted in visiting over coffee, attending book club, observing her garden and watching the many birds who enjoyed her feeders. She will be greatly missed, but her bright spirit remains.