Bennie J Olson

Date of Birth

April 28, 1934

Date of Death

October 10, 2021

Bennie J Olson passed away peacefully on October 10, 2021. Bennie was born on the family farm in Little Cedar, Iowa on April 28,1934 where he lived until 5th grade when the family moved to Forest City, Iowa. He graduated from Forest City High School in 1951. Seeking adventure, he hitchhiked to Idaho and worked for the U.S. Forest Service that summer.

Bennie married his high school sweetheart, Kathleen Ann Kloster Olson, on April 18, 1954. He enlisted with the U.S. Army in September and was stationed in the Panama Canal zone during the Korean War. Kathy joined Bennie in Panama City for the last 18 months of his assignment.

Bennie attended Iowa State University, graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1959. He accepted a position with Lockheed Martin, Watkins-Johnson in Sunnyvale, California. Bennie and Kathy headed for the West Coast with their daughter, Karen (2 yrs) and son, Craig (6 months) in the back seat of their 1958 VW Bug. Sons David and Eric were born during their time in the Bay Area.

The Olsons enjoyed many adventures in their VW Bus with their expanding young family. While on a trip to Southern California they decided to take the scenic route over San Marcos Pass and fell in love with the beautiful city below. Paradise found! The family moved to Santa Barbara in 1964 when Santa Barbara Research Center hired Bennie as an Aerospace Engineer.

In 1971, Bennie and Kathy purchased a business in their hometown of Forest City, Iowa. The family took off for the Midwest where they enjoyed reconnecting with family and old friends. They returned to Santa Barbara in 1973 and Bennie continued working in his former position at SBRC until his retirement in 1992.

An adventurous spirit, Bennie loved creating opportunities for fun with his family. His 87 years were filled with a lifetime of memories; from camping trips to Yosemite, water skiing in Northern California, fishing, snow skiing at the family’s cabin in Kirkwood, making homemade ice cream, hiking, and cheering his children on in all of their endeavors. As a beloved ‘Papa’, he
continued to share these family traditions, his love of the outdoors, and travel with his adoring grandchildren. The Olson home has always been a gathering place for family and friends where countless evenings have been spent on the deck enjoying family dinners, sunset views, and lots of laughter.

Bennie will be remembered, and greatly missed, for his infectious laugh, his big heart, and his love of life.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Kathy Olson; his children Karen Olson Reynolds, Craig (Lori) Olson, David (Carla) Olson, Eric Olson; grandchildren, Kathryn, Alexa, Ben, Cory, Stacey, Lauren, Andrea, Morgan, Erica, Hailey, Hannah and Ben; and 6 great grandchildren.

Please join us at the Celebration of Life for Bennie on Saturday, November 13 at 2:00p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church at 909 N. La Cumbre in Santa Barbara. Reception to follow.


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