Willis (Bill) Olson

January 3, 1930 - April 9, 2021

Willis (Bill or “Billy the Kid”) S. Olson, 91, passed away on Friday, April 9, 2021 at Azura Memory Care in Eau Claire, WI.

Willis was born January 3, 1930 to George and Helen (Stewart) Olson in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He attended Eau Claire schools through elementary to High school, graduating in 1948. Afterwards he completed accounting classes in Minneapolis while working. Bill married Ardella Harstad in July of 1950 and they had two daughters, Nancy and Kathy. He graduated from the University of Denver Colorado on a ski jumping scholarship.

As a child he started ski jumping at recess, becoming part of the Eau Claire regular ski jumpers. In 1952 “Billy the Kid” was on the US Olympic Team in Cortina, Italy and in 1956 in Oslo, Norway.

He worked at the Wood Motor Company, then Bertelsons. Bill also was an Eau Claire County Clerk, City Finance Director of Eau Claire, City Finance Director of Medford, Oregon, Controller of Luther Hospital and City Finance Director of Banning, California where he retired.

He was also married to Shirley Jenson, from Eau Claire. Outliving both his wives, he married Roberta (Maxwell) Olson, who is now widowed.

Bill is survived by his daughter, Nancy Hanson, son-in-law, Ray, and their daughter and his three great grandsons. His daughter, Kathy Strauch and her children, Derek and Erin, his wife, Roberta, brothers; Don, Mike and Dick, stepson, Mark Jenson, and wife Dawn. Bill was also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Bill was preceded in death by his brothers George and Bob and his sister Joyce.

A visitation will be held Tuesday, April 20, 2021 from 2:00 – 4:00pm at Smith Funeral Chapel.

  1. To the family of “Bill” Olson,
    I was so very sorry to learn of Bill’s passing. I will always remember the good times we had together on so many of our ski trips over the years.
    My condolences to you and your families.
    Respectfully, John Barstad

    - John Barstad

  2. Bill won all the titles in the Eau Claire Ski Club. I was a ski jumper also, but not in the same class as Bill. I was the president of the club when we built Silver Mine Hill. Bill was the first one to go down it when it was finished. I gave his induction speech when he was elected to the Ski Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, Michigan. I went on many ski trips with him when I jumped. I must correct something that was written about him. He jumped in the 1952 Olympics in Oslo, Norway and in Cortina, Italy in the 1956 Olympics. He left a legacy in ski jumping that probably never be equaled here in Eau Claire.

    - Don Larson

  3. Dear Kathy, Nancy and families,
    My sincere sympathy for your loss. I have wonderful memories-mostly from the “good old days”!! Bill graduated from higi school in the same class as my husband. We knew each other well and shared friendship and good times for many years. I love the picture in the obituary. This is how I remember him-either like this or flying through the air on skis. Remembering your Mom as well and many years of “Talking Club” get togethers.
    May God hold you close and bring you comfort and peace. Jo Stolp

    - Jo Stolp

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