Susan Koelle Olsen
February 1, 1952 – November 3, 2020
Susan Koelle Olsen passed away on Tuesday, November 3rd, at her home in Maple City, Michigan. Susie was the younger daughter of Paul and Betty Koelle, born on February 1, 1952, in New Haven, Connecticut. She spent much of her childhood and early high school years in rural Oregon, where her father worked for the Bureau of Land Management; and she gained her life-long love of travel and the outdoors on trips with her parents and older sister, Joan, throughout the western United States and on visits to extended family in the Northeast. After her family moved to Camden, Maine, Susie spent her final high school years at The Principia Upper School in St. Louis, from which she graduated in 1970, and her summers working at her parents’ popular restaurant in Camden. Susie attended Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, as a member of the Class of 1974, earning a bachelor’s degree in Religion and Art History. There she also met her future husband, Lawrence Olsen; and as Susie traveled around the world during time off from her junior year, she and Larry corresponded by mail and the occasional phone call so extensively that a romance developed. They became engaged shortly after she returned home in January 1973. Susie and Larry were married in Rockport Harbor, Maine, in a ceremony aboard the Camden windjammers “Mattie” and “Mercantile” on July 15, 1973. After a honeymoon in Bermuda, they settled at The Principia Upper School, where Larry served as a houseparent in the boys’ dormitory and Susie commuted to the college to complete her degree. Two years in St. Louis were followed by nearly six in the Vail, Colorado, area and then a short time in Natick, Massachusetts, before they moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Larry took a position in his family’s business. Through their early years together and for the first few in Grand Rapids, Susie worked in various positions, including as a hotel reservationist, a sales clerk in a gift shop, and an administrative assistant in a financial advisor’s office. But when she and Larry started a family, she made it her priority to be a devoted stay-at-home mom, doing all she could to expose their two sons to an extensive variety of experiences in museums, art galleries, and the outdoor world of western and northern Michigan. She would also travel with them to Maine and Florida to visit family, often driving on her own if Larry was not able to get away at the time. Through it all, her unmistakable qualities of motherhood shined through in the creativity, purity, love, and constant joy she shared with everyone each day. When the boys had grown into their middle school and late elementary years, Susie joined the Forest Hills school system, working in its libraries, first at the Northern Trails 5/6 grade building and then at Ada Elementary. These roles were another outlet for Susie’s incredible love for children, especially the special purpose she found teaching children the character traits of kindness and inclusivity. She also found time to be a devoted friend, a regular volunteer at Frederick Meijer Gardens and, as a life-long Christian Scientist, an eager contributor to church in various roles. After retiring from her school position, Susie spent most of her time at the couple’s Maple City home, where her passion for flowers and gardening led her to create a variety of garden plots around the property, as well as conserve local wildflowers and assist Camps Leelanau and Kohahna with their landscaping and in their office. She and Larry also began to travel more frequently. They had shared road trips to national parks throughout the US and Canada for years; and a spectacular Norway cruise with Larry’s parents in 1997 left a lasting memory that led them to take up regular cruising that introduced them to Alaska, both the Western and Eastern Caribbean, and Hawaii over the years. Another travel highlight that fulfilled a long-standing wish found them visiting New Zealand and Fiji, where they delighted in the gorgeous scenery and warm hospitality of those southern islands. Susie dearly loved her husband Larry, their son Eric, and their son Paul and daughter-in-law Meredith. She cherished all her relatives and countless friends, who knew Susie as someone with laughing eyes and a radiant smile, always ready to help with any task, play a game, or just to share time together. Her family will honor her desire that no memorial service be held. Instead we ask that all who wish to remember her do so by endeavoring to express more love and joy in each day, as Susie so unselfishly did. Anyone wishing to honor her memory beyond that may consider a contribution to either: Camps Leelanau and Kohahna / 1653 S Port Oneida Rd / Maple City MI 49664 The Principia / 13201 Clayton Road / St Louis MO 63131
The family gratefully acknowledges Covell Funeral Homes of Traverse City for their help during these days.
Camps Leelanau and Kohahna
1653 S. Port Oneida Rd., Maple, Michigan 49664
13201 Clayton Road, St. Louis, Missouri 63131
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Susan Koelle Olsen
November 11, 2020
Best way I can describe my memories of Susie is she’s all in, all the time, with joy. She was fully devoted to her faith, family, and friends. I was blessed to know Susie and Larry at Principia College both before and after their romance and marriage. After we all graduated, they were also kind enough to let my wife and me stay with them, both in Vail and Natick. We spent many fun days skiing, hiking, and playing tennis and great evenings cooking homemade pizza and laughing over college stories. Larry, my prayer for you, Eric, and Paul is that Susie’s love, joy, and megawatt smile is present in your hearts even as they ache in this season. I pray that leads to the peace that passes all understanding as we all look forward to that reunion beyond the veil.
November 6, 2020
Susie Olsen opened her heart and arms to my family when I relocated to Grand Rapids, Michigan 15 years ago. It didn't take long for Susie to hear through the grapevine that a new mother with young children had moved to the area. Within a very short period of time, I was riding in Susie's van with two small children strapped in the back seat. We were on our way to a local farm to pick strawberries and eat hot dogs afterwards! Susie always had a fun idea tucked away in her back pocket, and when she pulled it out, everyone was invited to participate. Susie had enough love share with the whole world, and no one was left out. All were invited to come along for the ride.
One of the aspects of Susie's life that impressed me the most was her immense love for her two boys. Most of our conversation consisted of updates on her beloved children, their current adventures, professional pursuits, educational advancements and love interests, of course! Susie dearly loved her family, and she was dearly loved by church members, friends, family and all those who met her.
I feel immensely fortunate to have met Susie. Her bright, smiling face is engraved in my memory. She was always happy to greet you, and I feel certain that Susie, in turn, will be greeted with love each step of her journey forward.
Thank you to the gracious Olsen family for all the kindness they have shown to others. May peace fill all the moments of your day.
Diane and Rob Collier
November 5, 2020
Oh, such wonderful memories I have of our time at the Upper School together. Lots of giggles and laughs! ... tears rolling down your face laughs! Then we both got married and the good times continued ... Vail, Colorado ... then all of us living in Michigan. TC events and more. Hard to believe we all landed in GR for the last 20 years. Fun Valentine's parties - almost shared B-days. Lots of good fun. Loved being a part of seeing your family grow up. And Larry - always so caring. Loved seeing you walk arm and arm around Meijer Gardens. Such loving care and gentlemanliness. Wishing you and your boys good memories. Hugs. R&D
November 4, 2020
I am so saddened to hear of Susan’s passing. We worked at Northern Trails together. She always had a smile, a positive word, and was bursting with joy. She lived life to the fullest and was so very proud of her family. I send my heartfelt condolences.
And as Susie would say...