Elaine Burdick Olsen, 70, died peacefully at her home in Greeneville on August 11, after an eighteen-month battle with colon cancer.
She was born on June 25, 1948, in Reinbeck, Iowa, to the late Clayton and Anna Mae Burdick. Elaine was the youngest of four children; her three older brothers, Kenneth, Russell, and James Burdick, along with James’s wife Virginia, survive her.
From her parents’ example, Elaine developed a natural curiosity about the world that led her to be a lifelong reader and learner.
She was also a lover of the water, and she met her husband, the late Tony Olsen, at the Reinbeck public pool when she was fourteen and he was sixteen. The couple married on August 15, 1963, and they traveled the country and the world during Tony’s Navy career. Their son, Anton Olsen, was born in 1966 in Portsmouth, Virginia, and their daughter, Anne Jeanette Olsen (now Halvorsen), was born in 1970 in Spain. When Tony left the military in 1972, the couple returned to Iowa, where Tony took a position at the nuclear power plant in Palo. The Olsens settled in Vinton, Iowa, eventually building their own home and developing strong ties to the community through the Wesley United Methodist Church and local organizations.
The family also became avid sailors of Hobie catamarans and members of the community theater. Elaine was a passionate seamstress who made many of the family’s clothes, including the wedding dresses for both Anton’s wife, Deb Aubuchon (now Olsen), and for Anne Jeanette, who married Doug Halvorsen.
After spending the late 1990s in other parts of the Midwest and Canada, Elaine and Tony settled on Galveston Island in 2001 to be closer to their children, who were both living in Texas. Elaine became an active member of the Island Quilters Guild, and when Hurricane Ike devastated the area in 2008, Elaine made more than fifty quilts which were donated to families who had lost their homes in the disaster. Elaine and Tony also worshiped with the local Hispanic church and taught English as a Second Language classes.
In 2013, the couple followed their daughter’s family to Tennessee, where the Halvorsens own and operate Meadow Creek Mountain Ranch in Parrottsville. Elaine found many new friends in Greeneville, including members of the Greeneville Newcomers’ Quilters Guild, Christ United Methodist Church, and the YMCA. She was deeply appreciative of the area’s natural beauty and the kindness of the local community, whose support helped her through Tony’s battle with pancreatic cancer and his death in April 2017 and through her own final illness.
In addition to her brothers, Elaine is survived by her children, Anton Olsen and Anne Jeanette Halvorsen; her unofficial daughter, Cathy Carlson; and eight grandchildren: Travis and Hannah Olsen; Sean, Cassie, Kara, John, and Emily Halvorsen; and Mike Shoemaker, whose son Sebastian is Elaine’s first great-grandchild.
Elaine asked that those who wish to honor her make donations to their local food banks in lieu of flowers. Elaine believed in being comfortable, and she requested that those attending the service dress casually.
Friends are encouraged to bring quilts made by Elaine to display at the service; photos of Elaine’s quilts can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for a slideshow.
The family will receive friends Saturday, August 18, 2018 from 3-4pm at Christ United Methodist Church, 307 South Main Street, Greeneville, TN. The memorial service will follow visitation at 4pm at the church.
Thoughts and memories may be shared with the family at www.jeffersmortuary.com Jeffers Funeral and Cremation Service is in charge of arrangements.