May 25, 2024

Darlene Olson

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Darlene Olson, age 88, of Crystal Lake, IL passed away on December 21, 2023. 

Darlene was born on August 11, 1936, on the family farm in Elbow Lake Township, MN to Leonard and Sigrid (Nelson) Dahlen. Darlene lost her mother Sigrid at the tender age of 3. Many relatives and even neighbors stepped in to fill the role of mother for her during that young age.  

She learned early on the value of connection and helping others in times of need. Marie Gunther and her Aunt Hilda are among those she was grateful for helping her after she lost her mother. Her father, Leonard, later married Lucille (Hodges), and from this marriage Darlene gained a brother, Warren Dahlen. 

Darlene grew up on a family farm and enjoyed being outside and spending time in nature and with animals. Darlene rode the work horses, helped take care of farm animals and learned about life in the fields of Northern MN. She often told stories of her early life challenges and the experiences, which certainly shaped her gifts of compassion and strength.  

Darlene graduated from Evansville High School in 1953. On February 20, 1954, Darlene married Eugene Olson, and to this marriage four children were born, Rory, Dawn, Randy, and Jill. They moved to IL to raise their young family after Gene was hired by United Airlines based out of Chicago. Darlene was very generous with her time and loved children. She took up babysitting to help make ends meet and eventually fostered two more children, Kevin, and Karla Cook.  

Darlene was an active member in Cat Fanciers Association of America, raising her champion Burmese cats. She won many ribbons and championships including having the World Champion Burmese Cat “Suntaro’s Adam.” She had many friends in the world of those who competed in competitions or just loved their cats. She also loved the companionship of dogs and the comfort they brought to herself and her family.  

Darlene was an avid gardener, canning, pickling “the best dill pickles on the planet”, and was also an excellent cook.

She enjoyed the large family gatherings which brought her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren together in her later years. 

Darlene treasured family reunions and organized many reunions for the extended Dahlen-Nelson family over the years. She was known for her heartfelt prayers and trying to unite family members who were separated by their life circumstances. It was really important to her that the extended family enjoyed happy times together filled with love and laughter. Darlene loved her family and enjoyed spending time with all of them as often as possible. 

Darlene was strong and soft at the same time. She was strong in her beliefs and her love for others that she felt needed extra compassion and empathy. Indeed, her compassion for others, acceptance, and support were a hallmark of her relationships and provided a perfect balance of softness and strength. Those close to her will remember and cherish her unwavering love, acceptance, support, empathy, and compassion.  

Darlene had an eye for antique furniture and dishes from the depression era and could easily pick out items of sentiment and value. For many years she was active through Penny Lane Antiques, finding and selling many beautiful items of furniture and jewelry. 

Her love of horses, her eye for choosing an exquisite horse, encouraging, and supporting her daughters in competition, the equestrian lifestyle, and caring for these beautiful animals was passed on to her daughters, Dawn and Jill, who are both accomplished equestrians that still carry on today.  

We miss the phone calls made to grandma just to chat for support, share our worries, dreams, and concerns. She was always available day or night, when we reached out to talk about our day, share thoughts and feelings, or needing support responding with caring, concern, love, and wisdom.  

She used the combination of these beautiful qualities to help both people and animals that she felt deserved more than they had. The number of lives she touched with her loving generosity improved many souls. 

Darlene was preceded in death by her husband Eugene Olson, her parents Leonard and Sigrid, her stepmother Lucile, brother Donald, sister Betty Westman, Alivia Cook, Nathan Powers, and other relatives, friends, and classmates whom she dearly loved. 

Darlene is survived by her children, grandchildren, several great grandchildren, and others who she loved as though they were her own.  

Everybody loved grandma. She was a friend to many. She is deeply missed. May her legacy of love, strength, and compassion carry on for all of us.  

Survivors Rory Olson, Riley Powers, Dawn and David, Victoria and Isabella Levitan; Jill and Michael Denker, Christine (Saylor) Divito, Crue, Gianna, Michael and Janet, Sophia and Knox Divito, Patrick and Alidia Denker, Karla and Ed Urias, Dylan McCartin – grandson; Kevin and Gabriella Smzolla-Cook, Christian, Zachary, Vikka and Scarlett Randy Olson. And many “adopted” friends and extended “family.” 

A Celebration of Life visitation is scheduled for Saturday, April 6, 2024, from 12 p.m. until the time of service at 1 p.m. at Davenport Family Funeral Home and Crematory, 419 E Terra Cotta Ave (#176) Crystal Lake, IL 60014. A luncheon will follow to gather and calm our healing hearts and spirits.

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