Homer J. Olsen
1924 – 2019
Homer J. Olsen, 95, passed away peacefully on October 20, 2019 in Gig Harbor, Washington, where he lived for the last 23 years; previously, he lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was born in Monroe, Utah on April 7, 1924 to Homer Christian Olsen and Ruth Weimer, both of Monroe, Utah.
Mr. Olsen’s early life on a sheep ranch in southern Utah and later in Boulder City, Nevada during the construction of the Hoover Dam greatly influenced his character and decision to enter engineering as his life’s work. Following service in the US Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1946, Mr. Olsen completed his BA in Geology at Pomona College and his MS in Engineering at Stanford University. He worked his way up from engineer trainee to superintendent and area manager at Peter Kiewit and Sons before starting his namesake company, Homer J. Olsen, Inc. in 1963. While at Kiewit, Mr. Olsen helped build the Friant-Kern Canal, the massive Garrison Dam on the Missouri River, the Crockett Interchange on the Carquinez Strait Bridge, the San Mateo Bridge over San Francisco Bay, as well as many other successful projects.
At HJO Inc., his over 200 projects included the Stevens Creek Freeway, the Hazel Avenue Bridge over the American River, the Powell Street and Embarcadero Stations on the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, the West Side Sewer Transport System under the Great Highway, and San Francisco’s award-winning Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Mr. Olsen was married twice, first to Janet E. Whitehead of Seattle, Washington, and second to Alice Joyce Deyoe (since passed), originally from Lewistown, Montana. He is survived by his three children from Janet Whitehead: Mary Olsen Kelly, Barbara Olsen Curtis and Robert Kevin Olsen; their spouses, Charles Curtis and Donna Barton Olsen; grandson, Kyle James Sidney Olsen; brother, Steven Olsen and sister, Winifred Olsen Dahl.
Mr. Olsen was generous with his success. He felt education was the key to escaping the poverty cycle, and he credited the GI Bill in helping him attend and complete his college education. He created scholarships at Stanford University and Montana State University, provided significant funding to Pomona College, and through his Viking Scholarship Trust has so far helped more than 40 family and friends’ children and grandchildren attend college. Homer wrote an impressive memoir of his life, his construction achievements, and his life lessons in Skidmarks Along the Highway of Life.
A memorial service will be held at Haven of Rest Memorial Chapel in Gig Harbor, Washington on November 16 at 2 PM with a reception immediately following.
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