Mary A. Olson of Winnetka, Illinois died on July 27, 2022.
Mary was born on September 29, 1939 in Chicago. Illinois to Alice and Vernon Olson, deceased. She is survived by her life-partner, Mary Mittler, cousins Barbara (Dwight, deceased), Jon and Liz Wernquist, Lauren (Lyndon, deceased), Keyes, Brian (David Diaz), Andrew and Tricia Lindquist, and many friends who were brothers and sisters to her.
Mary graduated with honors from Wheaton College, completed her Master of Social Work at the University of Chicago, and was awarded a Doctorate of Education from Nova University.
She began her academic career teaching fourth grade in North Chicago, IL. From there, she worked as a school social worker at Evanston Township High School, and then accepted an offer to be a student development faculty member at Oakton Community College, then in Morton Grove, Illinois. She worked at Oakton for 35 years and retired as Vice President of Student Affairs.
Throughout her career, Mary was known as the go-to counselor for the most troubled students. Not because she was easy on them, but because she understood that each student had a story to tell, and if she listened closely and often enough, that story would lead her to understand what needed to be said or done to help. And sometimes saying or doing what was needed was hard for the student to hear, but Mary has a way about her that let the student know she cared, and would be with her every step of the way. Mary was a great listener.
Mary valued honesty and integrity. She preached the gospel of Academic Integrity and spread the word through her actions. Mary was past-President of the National Center for Academic Integrity, joining her colleagues from Duke, Babson, the Air Force Academy and others who believed as she did, that honest and integrity needed to be at the core of any educational institution. She lived these values. Anyone who knew her for long knew that she was someone who would never dissemble or break faith. That simply was not who she was.
Mary was no drudge. Mary loved reading a good book, singing in her church choir, sitting in the sun, shelling on the beach, having a good meal, walking her dogs, (oh, she did love her dogs!), swimming, playing tennis, alley-picking, collecting folk art, old toys, primitive antiques.... Collecting almost anything. And laughing. Mary loved to laugh. Above all, Mary loved her friends. Whether canoeing with Jane on Lake Manitou, singing with Lyn, watching sunsets with the Florida crew, connecting with the Wheaton Wild Women, or going to concerts and the theater, being with friends made her happiest of all.
The last year of her life was not an easy one. She hurt. Her body was breaking down, but her spirit willed her on, until wiill-power alone couldn't carry her forward anymore. Mary was a person of faith. She loved God and trusted that once freed from her body, her spirit would soar and find its way home.
Mary is home now, and at peace.
She is missed.
She is remembered.
She is loved.
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In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to:
PAWS Chicago, 1997 North Clybourne Avenue, Chicago IL 60614
The Oakton Educational Foundation, c/o Oakton Community College, 1600 Golf Road, Des Plaines IL 60016
Memorial Service Saturday, September 10, 2022 at 2:00 pm at Winnetka Covenant Church, 1200 Hibbard Road, Wilmette IL 60091. Arrangements entrusted to Evanston Funeral & Cremation, Roland F. Weis director. Info 847 866-8843, condolence and guestbook at evanstonfuneral.com
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