Allan Victor Olson arrived in this world in the usual way in Clinton, Mass., on April 17th 1942, during one of the darkest and most uncertain times the world has ever seen.
Jeanne and Helmer Olson welcomed Allan's sister Norma to complete their family.
When Allan was a young man growing up, he rode his bike all over to go fish or just explore new places. He had a lifelong love of fishing and the outdoors, and an appreciation for nature and the environment which was an extension of his appreciation for the rich fullness of life in all things. As a kid he and Norma went with their parents to many places. Allan described for his son in later years how Helmer and Jeanne, in those thin times, always found places to go and were able to enjoy themselves in a way that is beautiful in its purity of what was important. The stories told to his son and recalled now were of packages of saltwater crackers and cheese so sharp it would take the skin off the roof of your mouth, "kept warm," he said, under a tall glass jar in a little country store near Bonny Eagle Pond. He spoke of how Helmer would bring fishing gear, and it was fresh hornpout for breakfast up in Maine. "Sometimes", he said with a smile that summer night two years ago, " it was for lunch and dinner too."
Both Jeanne and Helmer were Old World Anglers, and that skill was deep and strong in Allan, as it is in Norma, though it does not run as strong in his son, which was a source of many laughs and jibes over the years, especially last summer when Allan and his son were able to do a little, on reflection far too little, fishing, and he found a little peace while dealing with the hardest thing he had ever yet dealt with.
Allan was a hard worker his whole life, and recalled how he worked at Van Brode's in Clinton as a young man, mixing up what to his son sounded like proto-granola bars, "Lard, Oats, Salt, Barley", but also tending the overall complex taking care of whatever needed it. It is not hard to imagine him doing this, in that big ancient mill complex that still stands today in his old hometown, shops and karate dojos now where machines used to turn out everything from strangely yummy sounding granola bars to little plastic toys like Cracker-Jack toys, small white people figures cast in that 1950's plastic that doesn't bend and shatters like glass.
The only soul that has ever been documented to be affronted by this gentle kind man was a little girl he called a name when they were young. The story goes, another kid got in trouble for it when the girl went home and told. Technically, that unknown person is the affronted one, because the little girl ended up being the love of his life, Sherry, and they told that story many times to their son from the time he was old enough to tease the girls in his own class. "Watch out" Sherry used to say, " You might end up marrying her!" But, as far as anyone can tell, this man spent his entire time on Earth treating everyone and everything with kindness, compassion and generosity. There are no statues of him or buildings that bear his name, but his impact on this Earth because of his simple decency is still felt today, and the good that he put out into the world continues to flower and spread.
Sherry was a schoolteacher, and Allan worked hard in his own vocations, Bigelow's Nursery, and then Jamesbury. These are the jobs his son remembers, his knowledge of plants and landscaping picked up from the one, and the perpetual odor and presence of oil and metal, and the little magnets, from the other, but there were other jobs too, mixed in, and Eric remembers waking up at night and riding out with Sherry to pick him up at a moonlight job he was working extra. Maybe some of that was why their son enjoyed so many opportunities growing up, to go places with them, and also to go to different camps and experience a childhood steeped in curiosity and wonder, and widely varied experience. Allan worked for years after Eric left home in a widely varied jobs that all had the same things in common. He worked hard at them all, he did them all well, and the people he worked with treated him with the respect a man who works hard and doesn't make any trouble gets. Genuine, universal respect, and he did not command that treatment of himself, he inspired it.
They raised that son and sent him off to Maine to college, and then, in 1996, they became grandparents. In 1999, they welcomed their second grandchild. For a decade they had enjoyed their "Empty Nest", quiet summer mornings at Rocky Pond, coffee on the old metal table watching the sun scatter diamonds on the water, but then they jumped into their role as grandparents with a zeal that shone hot and bright for many years, and they were actively involved in their grandsons' life, and their son's family life, until the boys reached their majority. Allan's grandsons were estranged from him in an unspeakable act committed by their mother out of the fury which hath no like in Hell, but by then they were grown men, and he was focused on his duty. Sherry started to experience cognitive decline and for over a year, Allan kept her at home, and safe, with him. Then, when she couldn't be at home any longer, he went to see her every single day until the plague came, and then he went to see her every opportunity that was presented, without fail.
Allan and his son were back to back against all challenges over the last two years, taking care of his love, and supporting and reconnecting with family members. He was saddened by her loss after 54 years of true bliss but was actively planning and preparing for a final chapter, a sunset act, of living out his days, for once, without having to take care of or worry about anyone or anything. He was setting up a full knee replacement and listing places in Maine he has not seen that his son has, and they were going to work through as much of that list as possible.
This remarkable soul has been a source of strength to his wife and child as constant as the North Star, and an example of generosity that is seldom matched, and never as discreetly anonymous as his greatest acts were with Sherry, like buying Christmas presents for entire families of strangers, or sending Easter baskets to Eric at college the size of, in fact actually were, laundry baskets to share. It is fitting to end that thread on this note: Allan and Sherry gave everything of themselves to their son and his family , over and over again, and on his own, without his beloved Sherry to guide him, he was there for his son as he always had been, all the way to the end.
Allan will be remembered and missed deeply by his beloved grandsons Tyler and Elijah. He spoke of them often with love throughout this time and he died knowing they love him. His most beloved sister Norma, and her family, nephew Todd and niece Kimmy, Todd's three sons and his own three grandchildren, and all the many cousins and their families that make up this blessed clan. There were many people who called him friend, and many thousands of people he didn't know at all, except that he had seen them often enough that he knew them "by sight" and always greeted and was warmly greeted by these not quite strangers. Sherry had many friends through her career, and Allan was universally liked by all of them, too. In fact, Allan and Sherry used to joke that people used to seek him out to talk with at these things, other spouses bored with all this, as he never was when helping Sherry, and never was talking about the weather or anything else with anyone. Allan was a universally good communicator, and in years gone by he could be seen often on the North property line, having an active conversation with our neighbor. In total silence, because the neighbor was deaf, but to see Allan talk with him one could not tell.
Allan missed Sherry profoundly when she passed away in March of this year, and when it was discovered he was dying, just in mid-July, it did not take him long to find the silver lining that he and Sherry were not going to be apart for long.
Allan Victor Olson left this world on August 24, 2021, at home with his son, peacefully, to find his love Sherry, during one of the darkest and most uncertain times the world has ever seen. It is safe to say, it is a little less dark and uncertain for the time he spent while here.
For an hour after he was gone, in the sky over the home where he and Sherry lived their lives, were thousands of Dragonflies
Visiting Hours are Sunday, August 29 from 2 to 4pm at Fay Brothers Life Celebration Home, 1 West Boylston Street. A Funeral Service will be held Monday, August 30 at 11am in the Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Pine Grove Cemetery, Boylston.