Kent Gustaf Olson

June 6th, 1938July 16th, 2020

Kent Gustaf Olson passed away on July 16, 2020 at the age of 82.

Kent G. Olson was born June 6, 1938 in Preston, Idaho. He was the first-born son of LeGrand and Iris Olson. As his father was a forest ranger, he was raised in several communities in Arizona and New Mexico. The family moved to Manti, Utah in 1952 where Kent graduated from Manti High School in 1956. It was here that he started his lifelong love affair with music by taking piano and organ lessons. He was taught most notably by LaVar Jensen, a professor of the Juliard School of Music who spent his summers in Manti. He enrolled at the University of Utah majoring in electrical engineering, where he graduated with honors in 1962. While in Salt Lake he took organ lessons from Tabernacle Organists Robert Cundick and Roy Darley. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Germany. Upon graduation he accepted a job with the prestigious Bell Laboratories at Homedel, New Jersey. He concentrated his work there on efficient routing of communication traffic. While in New Jersey, he took organ lessons from the esteemed Fredrick Schwan at Riverside Church. He also enhanced his education by enrolling in a Master’s program at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He then transferred to Bell Labs along the Front Range of Colorado, to be closer to family and the mountains he loved. In his work, he migrated into computer operations, becoming a system analyst and administrator. He was famous for helping to bring the nationwide communications through the year 2000 (Y2K) without incident. He became widely known as a member of the Organist Guild and a substitute organist for the many churches in the Denver area. He became principle accompanist for the Colorado Mormon Chorale and served in leadership positions in that organization. He played for his ward for over 40 years.

Kent loved mountain climbing, studying nature, wildlife, and church history. He climbed all the 14ers in Colorado-some several times. He was an avid member of the John Whitmer History Association and Sunstone. He traveled to many exotic places including Africa, Antarctica, Easter Island, Hawaii, and Australia. Kent enjoyed doing many of these activities with his nieces, nephews, and friends.

Kent gave of himself to so many individuals as well as several charities, animal preserves, and the Organ installations in several buildings.

He had an exuberant zest for life and all the activities that he was involved with. This enthusiasm was contagious to all around him.

He passed away Thursday, July 16, 2020 near Greeley, Colorado while walking along the railroad tracks hoping to see the trains that he kept track of. He is survived by his brothers Keith (Pat) Olson and Ted (Vickie) Olson and sister Margie O. Anderson. Also, by 17 nieces and nephews as well as 46 great nieces and nephews.

 

Services

Funeral Services will be held on Monday, July 27, 2020 at 12:00 pm at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Boulder, Colorado Stake Center, 701 W South Boulder Rd, Louisville, CO 80027.

Graveside services to be held Thursday, July 30 at Franklin Cemetery in Franklin, Idaho.

Cemetery

None

Location

None

Church

None

Condolences

Kent was a wonderful man, full of life and interested in everything. He loved his friends and was always eager to help young people, especially in their musical aspirations. He was a dream accompanist for ward choir. I loved to hear his many stories, especially the one about how he decided to learn to play the organ. He was full of good cheer and goodwill and is one of the most truly guileless people I have ever known. I will really miss him. Even though we don't live in Colorado any more, I looked forward to seeing him every time we returned there. Now, I imagine, he is playing organ for a heavenly choir that I hope to sing with someday.
I have known Kent since college days and he has always been a true friend. After l joined Bell Labs, we became room mates. During that time, we went to many plays and concerts and visited historic places. After l married Kathryn Kent visited us often, both in NJ & UT. We also had great discussions on both historic and current topics. He was very knowledgeable about everything. We will really miss Kent. David & Kathryn Gunderson
Bob and I knew Kent when he worked for Bell Labs in NJ and attended the Eatontown Ward, East Brunswick NJ Stake with us. We enjoyed his sense of adventure and his stories as he hiked all over the world. He had a wonderful sense of humor and served others selflessly. One special time I remember was when he and another friend, Dave Gundersen, attended Handel's Messiah with the Philadelphia Orchestra with us one Christmastime. Kent graced everything he did, and Sundays were always special when he played the organ for our Sacrament Meeting.
I was honored to have Kent as my friend when I was a young man, and he was working for Bell Labs in NJ. We attended Church together and he was a very positive influence in my life for good. He helped me to believe in myself, and helped me along the path of faith. I look forward to seeing him again. Russell Tompkins, Buena Vista, VA
Kent was a gentleman and talented organist. We loved to listen to him play. I remember several lunchtime discussions with him at Bell Labs (Holmdel). Also, a great Gospel scholar with a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and the Restoration. Jim & Cherille Arsenault, Farmington, UT
Kent was my friend and musical colleague for many years. He generously shared his talents with a theatrical group I directed in 2008. He attended my concerts the years I sang with Colorado Repertory Singers and was always interested in hearing my favorite stories and songs. I saw him a few months ago at a funeral and he gave me a big hug. I am glad that our last time together was sitting and singing the songs of zion while we bid farewell to our friend Walter. I remember thinking that he was looking a bit frail and wondered how much longer he would live. Rest in Peace Kent! Jenny Hatch Longmont Colorado July 25, 2020
Michelle and I had the privilege to have Kent play at our wedding. I don't think he ever made a mistake. If he did it was well covered. Many a late night Kent would be playing the organ while I was finishing up and he would be a bit embarrassed at how loud he was playing. He would smile and say:"This is the time I can really open it up". I loved our conversations from engineering and telecom to baseball. Kent always asked about our children and took great interest in our Weimaraner . Kent is truly a loss for all of us and I doubt that organ will ever sound the same. Michelle & Tim Kelley
I am saddened to hear of Kent's passing. I first met him through the Monmouth Chapter (New Jersey) of the American Guild of Organists, when Kent was at Bell Labs in Holmdel, and I was just beginning my career as an organist. We served at various times as Deans of the Chapter and collaborated in various playing engagements. I was glad to reconnect with him when I moved to Denver as organist at Trinity United Methodist Church. He was a great supporter of our music and arts program at Trinity and attended our programs and services regularly, especially our Advent Organ Recital Series. He turned pages for me regularly in recitals and substituted for us on Sunday mornings several times over the years. He was always gracious, kind, generous, humble, and supportive, and has been a positive influence on me in my musical career. I shall miss him greatly.
I am so very sorry to hear this news. Kent was a wonderful, kind man I worked with while at the Labs.
I worked with Kent at Bell Labs and its spin-offs. Our respective jobs brought us into contact not nearly as often as I would have liked, as it was always a pleasure to be around him. We shared many interests, and his infectious zeal was always uplifting. It was also very clear that he was full of integrity. Reading his obituary, I realize we had more in common than I had known. My brother-in-law, about Kent's age, was a Forest Service brat, partly in Idaho. And I have climbed almost all the Colorado 14'ers. It would have been nice to have talked to him about them. I last saw Kent at a retiree luncheon in December 2019. He was visibly more frail than the previous time, but still as enthusiastic as ever. I mentioned an organ that was being renovated in Europe, and he knew all about the company that was doing it.
Kent was a truly unique individual that influenced many young musicians. He shared his prodigious talents throughout his life. I will always remember his encouragement and his kindness to my son, Matt. He will be very sorely missed.
I watched Kent’s funeral on Zoom from Provo, Utah; I thoroughly enjoyed it. My childhood memory of Kent is that he was very polite, respectful, and well-behaved. I learned of additional admirable qualities from the funeral. Kent and I were in the same class in the second and third grade in Mesa, Arizona, and our families both lived in the Mesa First Ward. Our parents were very good friends and still kept in touch with each other even after Kent’s family moved from Mesa. When my parents and grandparents took me to BYU in August of 1956, we stopped in Manti and had the evening meal with Kent’s parents. On a visit to the home of our son Charles Cook in Colorado, in one of the church meetings, it was announced that Kent Olson would be teaching the Gospel Doctrine Class. I remembered my mother telling me Kent lived in Colorado, so I wondered it this could be the same Kent Olson. I attended the class and found out it was. On one of our visits to Colorado, Charles and his wife Marilee invited Kent over for dinner. We enjoyed talking about memories of our time in Mesa; he was in Mesa through the sixth grade. He also showed us slides he had taken on a recent trip to Antarctica. Kent became the organ teacher for our grandson Steven Cook. They became close friends. I thought it was very special that Steven played the organ and piano for Kent’s funeral. Carole Crismon Cook
We knew Kent as a hiking friend and fellow adventurer. We have such fond memories of our outings together on several Colorado 14'ers. Such a man. Great sly humor, unstoppable positivity, never an unkind word, generous with his time and energy, a special person with beautiful values. Oh, gosh, he will be missed. But lucky us - we knew him and were wonderfully impacted by his goodness. Rest in peace, dear Kent.
We are so very sad to learn of Kent's passing. We met him when we moved to Colorado in 1986. We were uplifted by his talent on the organ. His rendition of "O Come All Ye Faithful" at Christmastime is one that we especially miss, since we moved away from Colorado 11 years ago. It swelled the heart and lifted the soul. I was proud to claim him as our own when he accompanied the Colorado Mormon Chorale. His talents were well-known throughout Colorado and he played for many churches and vocal groups. We had Kent over to our house for Thanksgiving dinner for several years running. We enjoyed his stories, especially his hiking and travel adventures. He had a keen sense of humor. He loved people and always had a smile and a story. We pray for comfort for his family and appreciation for the positive way he affected so many lives. Larry and Crystal Farnsworth, Florence, Oregon
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