Grace J. Olien, 93, Oakes, ND passed away on January 30, 2021 at the Oakes CHI Hospital, after a brief illness.
Grace Elizabeth Jackson was born to Herbert and Velma (Brammer) Jackson December 22, 1927 south of Thunder Hawk, SD in Perkins County.
She attended country school where she quickly developed a lifelong love of reading. She went to school in Thunder Hawk through her sophomore year and finished in neighboring Lemmon, SD graduating in 1945.
She attended Aberdeen Teachers College (Northern State) graduating in 1947. For the next 13 years, she taught in various rural schools in South Dakota, including her home town of Thunder Hawk where she had her younger brother Lee as a student. She also taught in Rapid City, Fort Pierre, Huron and Helena, MT.
She was united in marriage to Arthur Olien on December 29, 1950 which also happened to be her grandparents 49th wedding anniversary.
Art’s job as a civil engineer with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation resulted in several family moves in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.
During this time, three children were born to Grace and Art, Reed in 1955, Nancy in 1959 and Matt in 1964 all in different cities. Eventually in 1967 the family moved to Oakes, ND where all three kids would graduate from high school.
In 1977, at the age 49, she returned to college in Aberdeen to complete a four year degree in Library Science, graduating in 1980. She became the school librarian from then until 1995 along with being Oakes City Librarian for many years. She also wrote a weekly book review for the Oakes Times, the last one appearing just two weeks ago.
First and foremost, Grace was a good samaritan, not only did she love her family, she also loved and helped people that were less fortunate than herself. She was a friend to all who knew her.
Grace’s home was always open to all her kids and their friends who found love and good food. Some of these friends have referred to her as a second mother. Grace was also a foster parent for several years.
Though not born into the Lutheran Faith, she was baptized into it in 1954 and lived its teachings for the rest of her life.
She was a very busy woman who was involved in a myriad of organizations and groups, including P.E.O, Library board, Legion Auxiliary and many more. For many years at Christmas, she hosted an all day coffee party for over one hundred people including friends, acquaintances and always newcomers to town.
Throughout this busy life, Grace also found time to read three to four books per week and estimates in her 87 plus years of reading to have finished over 20,000 books, not including newspapers, pamphlets, brochures and anything else in front of her.
Despite the constraints of using a walker the last three years of her life, she remained involved in the world, the community, her P.E.O. sisters, friends and family.
Grace will be dearly missed by the countless people whose lives she touched.
Grace is survived by her 3 children; Reed of Oakes, ND, Nancy of East Grand Forks, MN and Matt of Fargo, ND and her two beloved grandchildren, Nick and Chloe Olien of Fargo, ND; 4 brothers, Lynn (Mary Ann) Jackson, Lemmon, SD, Larry (Phyllis) Jackson, Reeder, ND, Lee (Ruby) Jackson, Bismarck, ND, and Stanley (Kathy) Jackson, Sioux Falls, SD; sisters-in-law, Ronelle Olien, Boulder, CO and Deb Olien, Northfield, MN; and many special nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband of 69 years Art, and sister Jeanne Jackson, who was one year younger than Grace, her best friend, and died at the young age of thirty-five.
A funeral will be held at Grace Lutheran Church, Oakes, ND sometime in May.