The Rev. John W. Olson

The Rev. John W. Olson

Passed on Sunday, 13 November 2022

The Rev. John "Jack" Waldau Olson died on November 13, 2022, at Bethel Health Care Center, Bethel CT. He was a longtime resident of Bridgeport.  Jack is survived by his daughters: Karen Underhill, her husband Robert of Brookfield; their children, Robert Q. Underhill of Danbury, and Lindsay Underhill DeMarco and her husband, David, of Danbury; Emily Olson Fisher of New Milford; and Melissa Pionzio and her husband, John and their children, Jenny Pionzio and Jack Pionzio, all of East Hampton; his sister-in-law, Pat Pitkin and her husband Donald of Mohrsville, Pa., and their children and grandchildren. He will be remembered as "Uncle Jack" by many members of the Olson, Caldwell, Ohmen, Aldrich, Pitkin and Underhill families.  Jack's wife of 54 years, Dorie Ann Caldwell predeceased him a few months after their 54th wedding anniversary in 2010.

Jack was born in Middletown, CT, the son of the late Walter and Ebba (Thorson) Olson of New Britain.  He attended local schools and the University of Connecticut. Jack was a veteran and proudly served in post-war Korea and Japan with the United States Air Force, earning the rank of First Lieutenant.  Jack worked as a reporter for the Hartford Times, then attended Hartford Seminary and was ordained in 1963. He then earned his Master of Divinity degree from Yale University.

During his ministry, he served at Park Street Congregational Church, Bridgeport, from 1968 to 1986; and the Haddam Neck Congregational Church, Haddam Neck, from 1987 to 2006. Jack also conducted many civil unions at his home on Maplewood Avenue and served wherever a minister was needed, ever faithful to the Conference of the United Church of Christ.

He enjoyed visiting Sweden with Dorie, with several of his daughters and on his own, to study the language and learn about his family's history there. Jack was an avid runner and ran in the Boston Marathon more than 20 times, as well as the New York Marathon and even the Stockholm (Sweden) marathon. He enjoyed hiking and camping with his family and friends. He was a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan. He saw Ted Williams play his final game and would never stop believing the Sox could win "one more time."  Jack was a volunteer tutor at the Mercy Center in Bridgeport and read stories to children in the Bridgeport public schools, part of a literacy program at the time. He was an elected member of the city's Board of Education and the City Council, and a longtime member of the Democratic Town Committee. He was also a member of the Church of Sweden. Jack was a founding member of Habitat for Humanity of Bridgeport, now of Coastal Fairfield County, starting a Columbus Day Road race at Seaside Park to raise money for Habitat.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 18 at the United Church of Christ of Bridgeport, 2180 North Avenue, Bridgeport, CT.  Calling hours will be held at the Lillis Funeral Home, 58 Bridge Street, New Milford, from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17.  Burial is private.  Memorial donations in Jack's name may be made to Habitat for Humanity Coastal Fairfield County, 1542 Barnum Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06610.

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