Fred Thomas Olsen was born on June 19, 1934, at the Waldo hospital in the Maple Leaf neighborhood of Seattle, to Thomas and Jessie Olsen. He was the second of four children. His father died when he was 3 years old and he had two stepfathers. He grew up in the Greenwood and Phinney Ridge neighborhoods. In 1951, he enlisted in the Navy and served in the Reserves for six years. He graduated from Ballard High School in 1953. After graduation he held various jobs, including repossessing cars for local banks and resurfacing roads. He attended the Edison Vocational School from 1954 to 1956 where he was trained in painting and decorating. He entered active duty in the Navy in 1957 and served a two year tour on the USS Piedmont as a small parts assembler and torpedo technician. His tour took him to Japan, The Philippines and other Asian countries. Upon his discharge, he went to work for the O’Malley painting company. He continued to train and upgrade his skills and in 1961 won 1st Place in the Oregon/Washington Apprentice Painters Contest. In 1968, he bought the company and went into business for himself. He eventually became a General Contractor and built houses and condos in addition to his painting business.
In the early 1960’s, he was introduced to the Lord through Paster Llyod Peterson at Emmanuel Church. He became a fervent believer in the Grace Message. In 1961, he spend a summer taking classes at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, where he met Karen Getz. They were married in 1963 and followed Paster Peterson in 1964 when he left Emmanuel. They were charter members in the newly formed Berean Church and became involved working with the youth. Fred had a special rapport with many of the young people, and one way he ministered was by hiring them for summer jobs with his company. Fred continued to serve faithfully as a Sunday School teacher and Elder for many years.
Fred and Karen lived in Ballard for four years. Their son Tim and daughter Tamara were born in 1965 and 1966. In 1967 they moved to Bothell and Kurt was born in 1968 and Jon in 1971. Fred was a loving father and spent much time with the family bicycling, camping, fishing, skiing, and motorcycling. He attended his son’s baseball and football games and was supportive of all his children’s interests.
Fred’s ministries extended beyond the Berean Church. He served as an Executive Board Member of the Alpine Boys Ranch in Leavenworth, WA from 1978 to 1993 and later worked with Prison Fellowship conducting chapel services at the Twin Rivers Corrections Center. He found tremendous reward in ministering to the inmates. He continued the relationship with many of them after their release and was influential and supportive in their adjustment to life after prison.
In 2004, Fred and Karen made the decision to move to North Idaho to be near their son Kurt and his wife Heather and their two grandchildren Luke and Cassidy. Their third grandchild Jared was born in 2006. It was a constant blessing to be an active part of the grandchildren’s lives and they have never regretted making the move. Fred loved them and delighted in being part of their childhood.
Fred had a wonderful, wry sense of humor and even in his last days in the hospital he joked with the doctors and teased the nurses and aides. He loved to talk theology and argue his point. We will miss him and his love of a good laugh and know that he is already discussing the gospels with those who have preceded him in Heaven.
Fred is survived by his wife Karen of 54 years; their four children Tim (Cindy), Tamara (Gary), Kurt (Heather), Jonathan; three grandchildren Luke, Cassidy, Jared; his sister Ellie; and many nieces and nephews.