In memory of

Shirley A. Olson, age 88 of Helena

September 11, 1926 – October 1, 2014

Shirley Ann (Loe) Olson, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend, passed away on Oct. 1. Shirley was born September 11, 1926, the oldest daughter of Leonard J. Ella Tangen Loe in Pekin, North Dakota. After graduating from high school in 1944, Shirley attended Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. The following year she attended Mayville State Teachers College in North Dakota where she met Maynard Archer Olson, a returning WWII veteran. They were married on June 15, 1946, and both taught school at Standing Rock Indian Reservation in Ft. Yates, N.D. for two years. In 1948, the couple moved to Boulder, MT, where Maynard taught, coached, and became the county high school principal. During their years in Boulder, four of their five children were born. After moving to Whitehall, in 1957, where Maynard served as superintendent, their fifth child was born in 1959. During that year, the family moved to Helena where Maynard worked at the Department of Public Instruction and, later, Superintendent of Helena Public Schools. Shirley received her BA in elementary education from the University of Montana in 1966. She taught first and second grades in both Helena and East Helena for twenty years. As a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Shirley was actively involved in choir and Women’s Circle. She sang in the Helena Chorale for ten years and performed in community theatrical productions. Shirley’s love of the arts was fulfilled through her personal involvement in signing, drawing, painting and dancing. She and Maynard enjoyed traveling after they retired. Their mini-home tour around the US marked the beginning of their traveling jaunts around the country, eventually landing the two in Arizona for many winters. Shirley was a lifetime member of the National Education Association, a member of the Montana Education Association, Alpha Delta Kappa teaching sorority, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Shirley enjoyed family gatherings and spending time with her grand-children and great-grand-children. She was a loving and caring person who will be greatly missed by family and friends.

Shirley is survived by her husband of 68 years, Maynard Olson, children; Claudia (Jim) Schaeffer of Sheridan, WY, Pamela (Gary) Hansen of Rochester, MN, Craig (Sue) Olson of Peoria, AZ, Julie Struyk of Vancouver, WA, and Michelle (Steve) Wilcox of Helena, Montana; eleven grandchildren and five great-grand-children; sisters Phyllis Kroke of Surprise, AZ, and Connie Stenson of Rugby, ND and brother Charles (Bud) of McVille, ND.

She was preceded in death by her parents, sister Lois and brother Keith.

A funeral service celebrating Shirley’s life will be held at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, October 5th at Saint John’s Lutheran Church, 1000 Helena Avenue.  A reception will immediately follow the service in the social hall at the church. Interment will be 10:30 a.m. Monday, October 6th at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery, Fort Harrison. Memorials may be sent to Saint John’s Lutheran Church, 1000 Helena Avenue, Helena, MT 59601 or to the Montana Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2047 Broadwater # 2, Billings, MT 59102. Please visit below to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Shirley.



Read the thoughts and memories, then feel free to add your own.

  1. Tom Naegele says

    Olson Family,
    Your Mom was one of the Moms of my life and I have been truly Blessed. Supportive prayers sent your way.

  2. Del Harris says

    Shirley and Maynard have been a part of our lives for over 60 years. I so admired her beautiful singing, happy outlook on life. and gentle nature. Shirley made a good contribution to our community and she’ll be sorely missed. Now she’s singing with the angels in heaven. That’s the greatest!!!

  3. Val Flansaas says

    Olson Family: I am so sorry for your loss. Shirley was one of a kind, a great lady. You are all in my prayers.

  4. Rhonda Stenson Lageson says

    Only fond and loving memories of my dear sweet aunt.♡ Always a beauty inside and out. Blessings to you all from the Stenson family.

  5. Dick Hausken says

    My condolences to Maynard and his family. My father always appreciated visiting with Shirley and Maynard. Shirley really contributed to her community and that is appreciated.

  6. Daniel Reeves says

    For the past few years it has been my pleasure to share lunch, and conversation at our Helena Sr Center with Shirley and Maynard. Ifirst met Shirley in the context of the choir at St John’s Lutheran church while I wa of highschool age..aeons ago, or so it seems. My prayers go out to the soul and being we all knew as Shirley, and for Shirley’s wonderful family.
    What a pleasure to have known such a truly wonderful person

  7. Kayla (Loe) Lian says

    Olson family,
    So thankful for the years we lived in Arizona and our Surprise visits with all of our great aunts and uncles. Shirly was always so kind-spirited and genuinely interested in what we were up to. Our thoughts are with you all as you celebrate her life.
    Chris, Kayla and Kellen

  8. Nace and Janet Haugen says

    Maynard and Family, Our thoughts and prayers are with you. I am Kathy Loe’s sister and Nace being from McVille, we both remember Shirley Ann well. I made a trip to Surprise a few years ago with Denice and Bud and got to share in a wonderful dinner at Shirley and Maynards. Enjoyed the visit so much. Shirley Ann was such a beautiful lady and a joy to visit with. God Bless. Janet and Nace Haugen

  9. Steve, Cheri & Colton Matthes says

    We’re blessed with the brief experience of getting to know our, new to us, recently returning C. C. neighbors, Shirley and Maynard. Shirley, always happy and friendly, we shared many porch rail conversations. Her deep love and great pride for her children, grand-children and great-grand children, soon became extremely obvious. As well as her vest for life, while she shared her many experiences. A life well lived, she will be missed.

  10. Dan and Toby Rieder says

    I was a 7th grader when the Olsons moved to Boulder in 1949. Shirley and Maynard were fondly remembered from that time to the present by those students and citizens they touched. Shirley was the consumate wife, mother and friend. She lent her wonderful voice to many weddings, funerals and other community events. In fact, she sang at my own mother’s funeral in 1992. I don’t think I ever saw her without a beaming smile and a warm hug. Our best to Maynard, Claudia, Pam, Craig, Julie and Michelle and the extended family.

  11. Debbie Lauzen says

    Lovely Shirley Ann! I will always remember your beautiful smile and positive outlook on life and how much you cared about others. One memory that I will never forget is when the three Loe sisters and their daughters went to New York. There happened to be a blizzard that shut the city down after we got there. The next day we were going to Lincoln Center for the ballet. There were no taxis or buses. Vangie and I left early to check out the walk. It truly was a blizzard and we tried to call to tell everyone not to come. Well these three strong Norwegian woman trudged through the snow and made it to the ballet. We had such a wonderful meal and time that evening. We are lucky to have the Loe genes and be part of such a special family. Love you Shirley Ann. We will miss you. Debbie and Gary Lauzen.

  12. Randy Kroke says

    So many great memories. I was lucky, and blessed to be in Happy Trails with the two in the last few years. Many dinners and laughs. Great to me during a few tough years. But when my dad passed, I brought the news to them, both there caring was truly family, will never forget that day. And Aunt Shirley and her smile and love, will be forever.

  13. Denice Christofferson says

    It was so nice being able to see Shirley and Maynard when we moved to AZ. Loved her bubbly laugh and smile, a truly warm caring lady and fun, never a dull moment with Shirley Ann. Wish I’d had more time with her over the years. Thinking of you all. Denice

  14. Joni Delano Hantz says

    Olson Family,
    Shirley was the best mom. Such a kind and nonjudgement person. Always a bright smile. We are so fortunate to have grown up with Maynard and Shirley. Please know we are thinking of all of you and sending prayers your way. Love to you all.

  15. Rick Stenson says

    Love to all of my Olson cousins and their families and Uncle Maynard. Thinking of you all and the great memories of Shirley Ann. May God give you peace and strength as you celebrate her life!

  16. Vangie Pepper says

    Aunt Shirley always had a twinkle in her eye, and a warm loving smile. That is what I remember most about her. We were lucky to have been able to spend time with her and Maynard, Connie and Bob and Mom and Dad in AZ during our visits there. She will be missed.

  17. Sherry Carlson says

    I had heard a lot about Maynard and Shirley from my parents, Wes and Babe Lindsay, and my husband’s parents, Bill and Alice Carlson, when they knew the Olsons in Boulder, but I really got to know them when they started coming to the Jefferson County Museum in Clancy. They donated several of Maynard’s military items and came to a lot of our exhibits.
    I also visited them at their home. They both were so warm and welcoming with lots of stories to tell about Boulder. Shirley was a truly lovely lady with a very warm heart. They both were very kind to me and very interested in our museum. My thoughts are with Maynard and his family.

  18. Valorie kroke says

    My love and prayers to uncle Maynard and all my dear cousins. So many great memories from our stays in Helena, the lake and many family reunions. The singing and happy times. Aunt Shirley always made us laugh and love. I’m thrilled her and her sisters and uncle bud shared many good times on happy trails. I love you all

  19. Mark Annas says

    Olson family-Though I did not know Shirley well, I knew her children – Julie and Craig particularly. Very good people – and perhaps that is the signature characteristic of a good mom. My blessings, thoughts go out to her entire family.

  20. Ev Westwell says

    Maynard and Shirley were good friends of my family since we moved to Montana in1949. Her family has my deepest sympathy.

  21. Marlene Lear says

    We grew up with Uncle Maynard and Aunt Shirley. Our mother, Adele Olson Bennett, was Uncle Maynard’s sister so we have a lot of wonderful memories of Aunt Shirley and family.
    We have great cousins and we used to get together when we were little for reunions, etc. Aunt Shirley used to sing and play with us and spread her wonderful smile and optimism through all of us. We stopped to see them in Montana and Surprise several times and Aunt Shirley would whip up such great meals for us. We will miss her tremendously. God bless you Uncle Maynard and all. We love you. Marlene Lear, Jeri Godby, Bob Bennett

  22. Ruth Jones says

    I was so very sorry to hear of Shirley My Prayers and Love to the whole family. Sorry I did not send this sooner I just found it on my computer. Ruth Jones

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