We are heartbroken to announce that Jacqueline Adele Olsen, 77, passed away on July 29, 2020 at her home in Lewistown, MT, she lost her valiant fight against multiple myeloma and advanced kidney failure. Jackie was born to Ernest and Alice (Berg) Wilcox in Yakima, WA on March 30, 1943. She graduated from Winifred High School. She was united in marriage to Robert H. (Bob) Olsen on June 4, 1961 in Lewistown. They made their home and spent most of the remainder of her full life on the Beaver Creek Ranch in Paradise Valley on which she and Bob created a home and raised their family.
Along with supporting her farmer/rancher husband, Jackie maintained a half-acre vegetable garden, several flower gardens, two milk cows, raised four children, chickens, rabbits, occasional ducks, border collies as sheep dogs, donkeys as sheep guards, but mainly she raised sheep.
Jackie was a respected wool grower and judge. She was the first woman board member elected to the Montana Wool Growers Association; a feat of which Bob is justifiably proud. As a breeder, she experimented pairing rams and ewes based on the wool she wanted to produce, often for a certain sweater, vest, socks or other project she wanted to make from said wool. She became a sought out wool judge and breeding consultant. Jackie also became a trainer of border collies as sheep dogs. Gus was her favorite and most accomplished dog and they won many competitions and awards together. She called him, “Gus, best dog ever.”
Jackie was enamored with fabric, especially wool. She cleaned her own fleeces, carded, spun, knit, crotched, and felted the wool into all kinds of wearable art, such as socks, mittens, scarves, sweaters, vests, hats, slippers and more. She repurposed wool coats making them into hooked rag rugs in primitive and intricate patterns. She was an experienced needle worker who crocketed, knitted, sewed clothes and made quilts. She sold her wares at fairs, online and in local shops. Jackie was a founding member of the Central Montana Fibre Arts Guild and continued to be their newsletter editor until the spring of 2020. She also served on the Montana Alzheimer’s Board.
Jackie loved to garden from childhood and kept garden journals of what she planted where and how her crops fared. She preferred to go barefoot, especially in the garden, to feel the soil squish between her toes. The basement shelves were lined with canned goods and the deep freeze full of produce from the garden, berries from the Ranch, cherries picked from yearly pilgrimages to orchards near Flat Head Lake and fruit from “town.”
She was also an amazing cook who, when you asked for her recipe, said she just put in a little bit of this and little bit of that. There was always freshly baked bread, the heels of which did not last long if the kids where in the house when the loaves came out of the oven, homemade jams, jellies, syrups and butter. Jackie even made cottage and hard cheeses.
She was a skilled carpenter and handywoman as well. She designed and custom built her kitchen with lumber she had Bob cut at the family sawmill. In addition, she learned how to weld. Jackie also loved to read. This made her a formidable Scrabble player. She also studied writing and wrote short stories; studied and wrote poetry and always had a book of crossword puzzles to work on. Bob always made sure he included crossword puzzles in her gifts. Bob and Jackie celebrated their wedding anniversary date every year with neighbors Earl and Jean Shammel.
Jackie enjoyed people and traveling. There never was a “quick trip” to town because she would always stop and socialize with so many people. Jackie traveled to many places in the United States as well as to England, Ireland, France, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Australia.
Jackie is survived by her beloved husband of 59 years Robert (Bob) Olsen of Lewistown, their four children Kristin Olsen of Lewistown, R. Todd (Connie) Olsen of Lewistown, Connie (Regi) Chow (Palitha Wengappuly) of Charlotte, NC and Gretchen Collinson of Waldorf, MD; one sister Cheryl (Joseph) Pauli of Somerset, VA; seven grandchildren, five great grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, one sister MaryAnn Wilcox and one brother Ronald Wilcox.
Memorial Services for Jackie Olsen will be Tuesday, August 4th, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. in the Cloyd Chapel with committal to follow in the Beaver Creek Cemetery. The Cloyd Funeral Home is assisting the family.
Friends are asked to make memorials to the Beaver Creek Cemetery, Beaver Creek Fire Department or the charity of their choice and they may be left with the Cloyd Funeral Home. Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.cloydfuneralhome.com.