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John Jacob "Jack" Olson, Jr
Birth: Oct. 24, 1922
Bottineau
Bottineau County
North Dakota, USA
Death: Aug. 28, 2001
Normandy Park
King County
Washington, USA

Born John Jacob Olson, "Jack" died shortly before sun-up on August 28, 2001. "Jack was a man for whom soaring was invented" said his friend and fellow Seattle Glider Council pilot, Harry Higgins.

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The below is from Jack's Seattle Times obituary - also seen here, which was published on Wednesday, September 12, 2001:

"'Jack' Olson, 'a visionary'
By Peyton Whitely

Seattle Times staff reporter

From becoming a World War II pilot to producing paintings of life in space that are displayed in the Smithsonian Institution, John J. "Jack" Olson lived a life that far exceeded the accomplishments of most humans.

"He was a visionary. He was a writer. He was a fine artist," said his wife, Georgia. "He was a true Renaissance man, way ahead of his time."

Mr. Olson died Aug. 28 in his Normandy Park home of complications from cancer, which he had battled since 1985. He was 78.

Mr. Olson was born Oct. 24, 1922, in Bottineau, N.D. He went to high school there, attended the University of North Dakota, graduated from the Minneapolis School of Art and Design, and later received a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering from what is now Central Washington University.

He served in the Army Air Forces in World War II as an instructor and pilot, surviving a midair collision in a B-24. Though the four-engine plane lost half of a wing, he was able to land it with no casualties.

After leaving the Army as a first lieutenant, Mr. Olson joined Brown & Bigelow, which makes promotional gifts for companies. While at Brown & Bigelow, he received 120 mechanical and design patents.

After going to work for Boeing in 1958, Mr. Olson worked on projects ranging from designs for a jetfoil to concepts that paralleled the later design of the Hubble Space Telescope and a mass-transit system in Morgantown, W.Va. He took medical retirement in 1985.

One of his most widely recognized activities involved producing visionary illustrations of space exploration, and 21 of his space paintings are on display at the Smithsonian.

In a 1984 Seattle Times article, Mr. Olson's skills as a preliminary-design engineer were described by his boss in Boeing space systems.

"Jack could take the sorriest of crude concepts, and when he got through painting it, it looked like we'd spent five years doing detailed design," Gordon Woodcock said. "He's a lot more than an artist. He's an inventor and an engineer, a natural design talent."

But Mr. Olson's proudest achievement, according to his wife, "was getting his wings as a pilot. His next proudest achievement was getting his diamond badge from the Soaring Society of America," which entailed flying a glider through a highly challenging series of courses to show increasing competency.

He also was a skilled photographer and held a master-photographer certification from the Photographic Society of America.

Besides his wife of 40 years, Mr. Olson is survived by four sons, John Olson and Robert Olson, both of Seattle, Thomas Weinerth of British Columbia and Robert "Kip" Malaska of Tacoma; and a daughter, Julia Weinerth Sischo of Seattle.

A fifth son, Michael Weinerth, died in 1997. Mr. Olson also is survived by five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sept. 23 at University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Ave. N.E., Seattle.

In lieu of flowers, remembrances are suggested to the Highline Hospice, 12844 Military Road S., Tukwila, WA 98168.

Peyton Whitely can be reached at 206-464-2259 or pwhitely@seattletimes.com."

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The following obituary for Jack is from the 398th Bomb Group Memorial Association. The link also contains a few images of both Jack and his paintings.

"John (Jack) Jacob Olson
Jack was born October 24, 1922 in Bottineau and grew up on the family farm in Souris, North Dakota, near the Canadian border. He graduated from Bottineau High School and the School of Forestry (now MSU-Bottineau.) He then attended North Dakota State University in Grand Forks before enlisting in the Army Air Corps. In 1943, he completed bomber training at Washington University in St. Louis, MO and was awarded his silver pilot wings, which he considered to be his proudest achievement.

He served in the Army Air Corps in World War II as a B-24 instructor pilot. Jack successfully landed his four-engine B-24 bomber after losing over 15 feet of one wing in a midair collision, saving 14 crewmembers and passengers onboard. At the end of World War II, Jack left the service and graduated from the Minneapolis School of Art and Design. He later received a bachelor's degree in Aeronautical Science from Central Washington University.

In 1950 he joined Brown & Bigelow as the chief designer in metal and plastic products. While working there he received 120 mechanical and design patents and in 1951 his design of the now famous Tupperware Party favor, "the pickle plucker" received the National Design in Plastics award.

In 1958 Jack joined the Boeing Aerospace division ultimately holding the title of Principal Engineer in Concept and Design. His first project at Boeing, before joining the Aerospace division was a mass-transit system in Morgantown, W.Va. He soon became widely recognized for his visionary concept designs, and illustrations of spacecraft and space exploration. His projects involved a concept that paralleled the later design of the Hubble Space Telescope, the design of Boeing's bid to NASA on the Moon Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), a manned Mars outpost, and a solar power satellite project. He considered the concept of using the barren land beneath the solar power satellite as a greenhouse, which could provide food for a city of a million people, as one of his most exciting projects. Jack was also responsible for the concept and detail design of the Boeing Jetfoil, now plying the waters of the English Channel and Hong Kong, the design patent of which he shares with another engineer.

Forced into early retirement in 1984 because of medical problems, he continued to do consultant work for Boeing and NASA. In 1985 he was honored with a one-man show of his spacecraft design illustrations at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. Twenty-one of these paintings are now part of the permanent Smithsonian collection.

Jack enjoyed flying sailplanes and earned all three legs of the Diamond badge from the Soaring Society of America. He was a pilot and instructor for 20 years. He also enjoyed painting, photography, woodworking, music, and was a history buff. His illustrations have been included in several textbooks and coffee-table books and have appeared in numerous periodicals and products globally. Among other achievements, he was a master Photographer in the Photographic Society of America, a member of Epigraphic Society and of the Soaring Society of America and occupied a chair on the National Space Society Board of Governors.

In 1994, he retired to a summer home on Lake Louise in Bottineau County, North Dakota. He joined the Bottineau Men's Choir. He became active in civic affairs promoting the city of Bottineau. Among many ideas to bring attention to the city, he designed an informational Kiosk and organized a national soaring contest in Bottineau to promote gliding in North Dakota. In December of 2000, he and his wife returned to their home in Normandy Park near Seattle, Washington. On August 28, 2001 he lost his 14-year battle with cancer.

Addendum:

1.Information about Jack Olson was provided by his step son, Robert (Kip) Malaska in August 2005.
2.About the author and painter Jack Olson in a downloadable pdf file.
3.The first photograph below was taken by Jack Olson's wife while he was painting Clearing and Colder with the 398th's colors.
4.The second photo below is the original 398th photo that was the model for Clearing and Colder.
5.The third photo below is one of John J. Olson's many space paintings on display at the National Air and Space Museum.
6.A Brief Visit Home by Jack Olson, a story about Jack's cadet training and a the day he buzzed the family farm in a B-24. Note the story [containing some of his artwork as well] is a downloadable pdf file.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The following National Space Society link contains an image of one of his paintings:

Jack Olson
1922-2001

Former Member of the National Space Society Board of Governors


Jack Olson was born October 24, 1922, in Bottineau, ND. He attended the University of North Dakota, graduated from the Minneapolis School of Art and Design, and later received a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering from what is now Central Washington University.

He served in the Army Air Forces in World War II as an instructor and pilot, surviving a midair collision in a B-24. Though the four-engine plane lost half of a wing, he was able to land it with no casualties.

After leaving the Army as a first lieutenant, Mr. Olson joined Brown & Bigelow, which makes promotional gifts for companies. While at Brown & Bigelow, he received 120 mechanical and design patents.

After going to work for Boeing in 1958, Mr. Olson worked on projects ranging from designs for the Boeing Jetfoil to concepts that paralleled the later design of the Hubble Space Telescope and a mass-transit system in Morgantown, WV. He also pioneered the concept of using the barren land beneath a solar power satellite rectenna as a greenhouse, which could provide food for a city of a million people.

He took medical retirement in 1984 and succumbed to a long bout with cancer in 2001.

One of his most widely recognized activities involved producing visionary illustrations of space exploration, and 21 of his space paintings are on display at the Smithsonian. Below is his depiction of a solar power satellite under construction by Boeing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Author of "Once In The Middle Of Nowhere: The Center of the Universe: A Collection of Turtle Mountain Tales" (published posthumously) - contains pictures of him and of some of his artwork:

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Another painting of Jack's can be seen on the cover of the February 1981 issue of "Soaring magazine" (see page 9 of 20 on the PDF file.)

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Jack Olson was a long time member of the Seattle Glider Council and as such, they have an award for pilot members named after him - the "Jack Olson Memorial Eagle Eye Award". See Seattle Glider Council "Honor Roll". Jack was also the recipient of many of the SGC awards over the years of his membership with them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jack was featured in a multipage article with photos of him and his artwork in the Seattle Times newspaper on July 24, 1984 (front page of the "Scene", section E [page 39] and continued on page E7 [page 45]). His art exhibit in partnership with the L5 Society at the Pacific Science Center was mentioned in the Seattle Times on June 16, 1983 (page 47). More on the L5 Society can be read here.

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A painting of Jack's, "Watercolor, St. Ignatius", was on the cover of the June 1988 issue of Soaring Magazine.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

An Unofficial Listing of the Soaring Magazine index lists the following as some of Jack's contributions to Soaring Magazine over the years (via searching for "Jack Olson" in the Soaring and Motorgliding Magazine Index):

Department, Columns, or Sections of the magazine are indicated within parentheses '( )'.

Subject, and sub-subject, are indicated within square brackets '[ ]'.

- Jack Olson: Ultralight designs, Apr, 1973, page 24 [ConstructionSailplanes; Design; Ultralight; Landing Gear]
- Jack Olson: Big Sky gypsy soaring camp, Aug, 1973, page 7 (SSA in Action)
- The second Big Sky glider expedition, Chocteau, Montana, drawings by Jack Olson, May, 1974, page 18 [Expeditions; SitesMontana; Meteorology]
- 1975 SSA calendar: art winners, Oct, 1974, page 7 (SSA in Action) [Soaring Society of America; PeopleMillard Wells; PeopleJack Olson]
- Jack Olson: A fine feathered friend, May, 1977, page 25 [Birds]
- Jack Olson: Altostratus I painting, Feb, 1981, Cover (Covers) [SailplanesAltostratus I; Illustration]
- Jack Olson: A Faired Tail Wheel, Oct, 1982, page 48 [Construction and How-ToMaintenance and Projects]
- Jack Olson: It Was Worth It!, Dec, 1985, page 3 (Letters) [AwardsBadge Flights]
- Jack Olson: Age Cannot Wither.., Apr, 1986, page 4 [CompetitionsRegional; Illustration]
- Jack Olson: Vintage Glider over City, Jan, 1988, page 4 [Illustration]
- Jack Olson: Watercolor, St. Ignatius, Jun, 1988, Cover (Covers) [Illustration]
- Jack Olson: Northwest Adventure, Nov, 1988, page 3 [TechniquesCross Country Soaring; Affiliates, Chapters, and Clubs]
- Jack Olson: Hanging It Up (Reflections after 62 Years), Dec, 1992, pages 2-3 (Letter) [Esprit de Corps; Seniors]
Stewart Crane: An Open Letter to Jack Olson, Mar, 1993, pages 3-4 (Letter) [Seniors]
- Jack Olson: (Bottineau, ND) a Site for Soar Eyes, Aug, 1994, pages 29-32 [Expeditions]
- Jack Olson: Sometimes It's Worth the Effort, Turtle Mountains Soaring Safari, Jan, 1996, pages 23-25 [Expeditions]
- Jack Olson: Still Looking Up, May, 1998, page 10 [Seniors]

(The above info has all been re-entered by hand, so there are going to be typos. Please send along your corrections and suggestions to john.leibacher@gmail.com. Thanks!!)

 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  John Jacob Olson (1881 - 1955)
  Pauline Krogen Olson (1885 - 1969)
 
 Spouse:
  Georgia Elizabeth Odekirk Olson (1920 - 2010)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Swedish Lutheran Cemetery
Souris
Bottineau County
North Dakota, USA
 
Maintained by: LC-NW
Originally Created by: Herb Schwede
Record added: Apr 12, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 25940025
John Jacob Jack Olson, Jr
Added by: Tanya Erickson
 
John Jacob Jack Olson, Jr
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Herb Schwede
 
 
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.


- Neil B (John 3:16)
 Added: Jun. 9, 2014
Jack lived 2 doors away from our house in Normandy Park. He and Georgia were great neighbors. Late one night many years ago in the mid 1990's, our doorbell rang, and there was Jack asking to "borrow" a cocktail. Of course we accommodated his request. ...(Read more)
- Rob & Claire Everitt
 Added: May. 19, 2014
Happy St. Patrick's Day, Jack! Rest in peace, old friend. :o]
- LC-NW
 Added: Mar. 17, 2014
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