Susan Gay Olson

Jan. 18, 1948 - June 23, 2023


June 28, 2023

Provided photo

Susan Gay Olson

Susan Gay (Riddle) Olson, 75, of Sweet Home passed away on June 23, 2023.

Sue was born to Richard and Ramah (Peterson) Riddle in Omaha, Neb., on January 18, 1948, the baby of five siblings.

She would have attended North Omaha High School but went on to graduate from Wichita High School South after her family moved to Kansas.

She enjoyed the friendships she made in junior high and high school her entire life.

During school she enjoyed French class, interpretive dance, and glee club. She enrolled in the University of Omaha for a semester, but her education there was cut short by a family move to California.

In California, Sue met her husband of 52 years, Ric Olson. In 1976, Sue and Ric moved to Oregon to raise their family.

Sue was a stay-at-home mom, selling Avon on the side, while living in Eugene. She began her volunteering career as a PTA volunteer at the Danebo school district in Eugene.

In 1979, the family moved to Brownsville. Sue was instrumental in leading young people in both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts in Brownsville, and was also active in the Brownsville Elementary School PTA, hosting school carnivals and other events.

In the fall of 1984, Sue and her family moved to Sweet Home. Sue continued to lead both Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, and she and her husband did volunteer work at Camp Pioneer near Marion Forks.

In 1986, Sue attended a band performance of her oldest son that took place during a community Christmas choir.

What she witnessed that evening was the most magical thing she had seen, and as she left Sweet Home High School's auditorium that evening, with snow falling, she was determined to be a part of the performance the following year.

Beginning in 1987, the Sweet Home Singing Christmas Tree became an enormous part of her life and a year-round pursuit as she became first a choir member and then Program Coordinator and Chairman of the Board of the "TREE."

Sue poured her entire being into making the "TREE" the best Sweet Home tradition for 32 years. The friendships she made during her "TREE" years were so valuable to her.

Sue was a true lover of Sweet Home and volunteered for so much, including the Sweet Home Chamber of Commerce board and the Sweet Home Parade Committee. In 2011 she received the award for Distinguished Service from the Chamber of Commerce.

Sue instilled this love for public service in her daughters, and she was so proud of the volunteer work they do.

In 1994, Sue began working at A&W Restaurant in Sweet Home, first as a cook and then as a cook and assistant manager. Sue was working when her daughter and son-in-law purchased the restaurant in 1999.

She retired from A&W after working with an unequaled work ethic for 24 years in 2018.

Sue enjoyed music very much and would blast it while cleaning house. She enjoyed Broadway musicals, historic movies, and the Hallmark Channel.

Sue loved Pepsi, coffee with extra cream and biscotti.

Any time she had any small piece of earth to dig she would plant a garden and grow tomatoes, corn, pumpkins, red geraniums and roses. She enjoyed ALL of the holidays, always carving pumpkins, sewing and creating amazing costumes, wearing green and making corned beef, and dying Easter eggs, but she loved Christmas most of all!

She loved buying many gifts for her children and grandchildren and would put out a feast any chance she could. She was well known for her cookie-making skills and would deliver numerous beautiful cookie trays during the holidays.

Sue was an outstanding cook and made the best fried chicken, roast beef and potato salad and always said, "Food equals love."

Sue was an avid crafter and quilter, most recently making dozens of ornaments for the Capitol Christmas Tree that came from Sweet Home and went to Washington DC.

She made countless quilts to raffle off for the Sweet Home Singing Christmas Tree, for her grandchildren and for others as baby shower gifts.

Sue is survived by her brother's widow, Arlene Riddle of Pahrump, Nev.; brother Jim (Helen) Riddle of Papillion, Neb.; sister Linda Tasker of Aurora; brother Chris (Jenny) Riddle of Mulkiteo, Wash.; brothers-in-law Dave (Cat) Olson of Lebanon and Tom Olson of Antigua, Guatemala; sister-in-law April Osborn-Harris of Reedsport; her children Eric (Angie) Olson of Keizer, Patty (Josh) Hankins of Sweet Home, Tim (Kymn Taylor) Olson of Gresham, and Debbie (Cody) Walvatne of Sweet Home.

She is also survived by her grandchildren, Emma (Brandon) Morris, Julia Olson, Eli Olson, Luci, Owen and Allison Hankins and Tobias Walvatne; and great-grandchildren Baron and Valor Morris; in addition to numerous nieces and nephews whom she loved so much.

Services will be announced in the near future. Sweet Home Funeral Chapel is handling arrangements.


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