Jerry Olson at the 2013 Fall Follies in Salem, Ore. Dean Rea photo.

Gerald 'Jerry' Olson
Jan. 6, 1952-June 24, 2014

By Barbara White

On June 24th, 2014, Jerry Olson passed away in a tragic accident while on vacation with his wife, Ines, in Mexico.  On that day, we lost a great friend, a great club member and a great family man.

Jerry started flying control-line planes only recently, within the past decade or so, with the Northwest Fireballs at Delta Park in Portland and, occasionally, at his local Happy Valley Park.  Joining the Fireballs in 2007, he was elected Secretary in 2008 and served in that office every year after that.  Jerry didn’t just serve on the club’s board; as one of the more active club members, he flew three times a week after his retirement in 2012.  He attended almost all club functions and worked before and during many of them, including the New Year’s Fun Fly events, our Jim Walker contests in April, picnics and intra-club contests, and the winter banquets.  He organized a demonstration fly at Happy Valley for July 4, 2009.  When help was needed at the May Northwest Regionals, Jerry was always available.  When a ride was needed to take an out-of-town flyer to the emergency room for stitches, Jerry stepped up.  When a nondriving member needed a ride to the park, Jerry made that a part of his schedule.

Kim, Jerry’s daughter, said his family “used to joke that we needed to get him a superhero cape because he was always there for us, no matter what.”  We can attest that he was equally there for his friends.

Jerry’s early years of control-line flying were accompanied by the crashes of a newcomer, but he was very rarely discouraged and always kept rebuilding.  He started flying with a Fox 35-powered Flight Streak (several of them), but really hit his stride with an OS LA-25-powered Super Clown given to him by Andi Christianson (built by her late husband, Jeff).

His best airplane, however, was the one he worked on with Don Curry at this shop.  Over a six-month period, he built a beautiful LA-25-powered Warrior which he was able to fly once or twice before going to Mexico in June.

In addition to his time spent with the Northwest Fireballs, both on the field and off, Jerry volunteered regularly with the Oregon Humane Society.

Born and (mostly) raised in California, Jerry came to the University of Portland as a high jumper with a track scholarship and never left.  He graduated in 1974 with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, focusing on psychology and sociology; he worked at the Maclaren Youth Correctional Facility for 10 years, then went to work for the U.S. Postal Service.  He retired from the postal service after 27 years.

While at UP, he met his future wife, Ines; they married in 1975 and had just celebrated their 39th anniversary.  Son Kevin was born in 1978, daughter Kim in 1980. Jerry worked hard for his family and adored and took pride in all of them, wife and children, son- and daughter-in-law (Matt and Hally), both grandchildren (Sophia and Lily).

Jerry’s family characterized him as “a selfless, silly, kind, sweet, hardworking, compassionate and sometimes mischievous man who lived to make the people in his life happy. Our fondest memories include ... the boyish joy that he took in the small things in life.”

Yes, all true.

Jerry Olson (center) at Milo McIver State Park in Jan. 1, 2014, with Fireballs (from left) Richard Entwhistle, Tim Wescott, Tom Brightbill and Jim Harper. Barbara White photo.

Jerry (left) at the Fireballs Intra-Club Clown Contest in September 2012, along with Richard Entwhistle and Dave Royer. Barbara White photo.

Flying Lines home page

Back to Northwest Fireballs page

This page was upated Jan. 5, 2015