Margaret Ford Olson died March 20 2015 at the Wharton Home in the Uplands Village community in Pleasant Hill, Tn. She was 84. A long-time resident of Oak Ridge, she was an avid traveler and devoted proponent of environmental causes such as those sponsored by the Sierra Club.
Mrs. Olson was born Margaret Ford in Houston, Tx. She was the daughter of Lester Randolph Ford Sr. and wife Marguerite, who preceded her in death. Margaret was a great-great granddaughter of Sam Houston, the first President of the Republic of Texas, and supported various historical projects related to her heritage.
Her mother was an accomplished landscape painter and her father was a renowned mathematician and author of classic textbooks. In 1937 she moved with her family to Chicago, where her father taught at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
She grew up with her parents and older brother in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago and met her future husband, Jerry S. Olson, while they were students at the University of Chicago. They married in 1950, then moved to New Haven and Branford, Ct., where Mr. Olson was a forester at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. Mrs. Olson worked briefly as a librarian before giving birth to two daughters, Karen and Martha.
The family moved to Oak Ridge in 1958 when Mr. Olson joined the staff of Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a forester & ecologist. Mrs. Olson was an enthusiastic homemaker – baking bread, sewing clothing and knitting sweaters for her family. She also raised honeybees and wove on a loom. The family traveled frequently for Mr. Olson’s work, including a trip to Europe where they lived in a Volkswagen microbus.
She volunteered extensively with the Camp Fire Girls and was a member of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church for many years. She was active in the Sierra Club, holding several official positions and maintaining records of their environmental initiatives.
Mrs. Olson worked part-time for the University of Tennessee Arboretum and the Coal Employment Project, an initiative promoting coal-mining careers for women. After a divorce, Mrs. Olson founded and ran her own company, Typing Services of Oak Ridge, also known as TYSOR.
After retiring in 1996 Mrs. Olson moved to the Uplands Village community of Pleasant Hill outside Crossville. An avid lover of wildlife, she enjoyed feeding birds, squirrels, raccoons and possums. She traveled widely, sometimes by freighter, to exotic locations such as Easter Island, Antarctica and Machu Picchu, Peru. She was an active camper well into her 70s having outfitted two trucks for camping.
She is survived by two daughters, Karen Olson of Tallahassee, Fl.; Martha Olson of Knoxville, Tn. and Martha’s informally adopted children and grandchildren including special friend Vito Henderson age 7. Also survived by her brother, Lester R. Ford Jr. & his wife Naoma of Santa Barbara, Ca.; nine nieces and nephews and their children.
A memorial service will be held at 4 pm Saturday March 28 at Church of the Savior, 934 Weisgarber Road Knoxville, TN 37919. A second memorial will be held at the Uplands community in Pleasant Hill TN at a time to be announced later.
Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to the Sierra Club Foundation – Tennessee Chapter, 85 Second St. suite 750, San Francisco CA 94105.