Carolyn Margaret (nee DeGenito) Olson, 91, of Old Bridge, died days before her 92nd birthday on March 18, 2013 at the Willows of Holmdel Assisted Living.
She was born on March 23, 1921 to her Italian parents, Emilia and Gennaro DeGenito in Brooklyn. Soon after, she moved with her 10 siblings and grew up in Keyport. Growing up as the baby of the eleven children, her house was always filled with laughter of a very large extended family. She was predeceased by her parents and all of her siblings.
She graduated from Red Bank Catholic High School in 1940 and was the center of the basketball team while there. Carolyn also performed gymnastic routines during theater intermissions in her teen years and continued to be able to gracefully do a split, cartwheel, and backbend well into her 70s, entertaining her children, nieces, and grandchildren.
She married the love of her life, Army Air Force 1st Lt. Nelson Olson in October 1941 in upstate New York while he was home on a weekend furlough from Officer Candidate School. They were happily married for 60 years before Nelson died twelve years ago. Together they traveled the country during their early-married life while Nelson was in the service and then lived for years in the towns of Freehold, Highland Park, Aberdeen, and Old Bridge.
Nelson taught Carolyn to drive and was deployed to New Zealand six months later during World War II. They were living in Culver City, California and Carolyn decided to drive home to New Jersey by herself, at 21 years old, to live with her large extended family. It took her two weeks during which she had to abandon her car and buy a new one due to tires being rationed but she made it with Nelson's excellent map skills detailing the trip for her before the age of interstate highways.
Nelson was in the Army Air Force for four years during which Carolyn worked at Fort Monmouth in civil service jobs. Carolyn worked many jobs throughout her life, not wanting to retire until the age of 72. She felt that going to work each day and helping others made her feel purposeful and successful. A few years after Nelson's discharge from the service, they opened up the second Dairy Queen franchise in New Jersey in Bridgewater in the late 1940s and worked long hours for six years to make it very prosperous.
After selling the Dairy Queen, Carolyn spent years raising her family and working part time jobs, mostly in the field of education. Carolyn had a love of gardening and would often be found outside in the mid morning hours pulling weeds and watering the lawn! She also loved visiting friends and relatives, shopping, helping others, and Atlantic City. Carolyn shopped everyday delighting in finding sales and getting a bargain. She was a member of Sirius Chapter No. 123, Order of the Eastern Star of New Jersey. She attended meetings often and was an officer in several stations but also enjoyed accompanying Nelson to his many Masonic, Scottish Rite, Tall Cedars, and Shriners affairs and socials.
In 1974, Carolyn graduated from Brookdale Community College with an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education. She enjoyed going back to school in her 50s and was able to complete the degree in two years while raising her kids and working part time as a school aide. Carolyn thought she wanted to continue towards a four-year degree but instead fell in love with being a substitute for the Hazlet Board of Education. Every day for over 20 years, she subbed in all of the Hazlet Schools but mostly in Raritan High School where she was constantly sought after for long term assignment positions. She spoke highly of the Hazlet staff and students and loved to tell her family about her day after work. Upon retirement in 1974, Carolyn stayed home with Nelson in Old Bridge reading, dining out, making day trips, visiting friends and family, and spending time with her beloved and adored children and grandchildren.
She is survived by her daughter, Wendy J. Orzechowski, and her husband, Robert, of Old Bridge, NJ and her son, Glenn K. Olson and his wife, Cindy, of Alpharetta, Georgia. She has six beautiful grandchildren who she thought were the sun, moon, and stars: Christopher, Shawn, Drew, and Cassie Orzechowski; Laura Riso, and Marissa Olson. She will also be missed by her favorite little dog, Chloe Caroline. Carolyn has many loving cousins, nieces, and nephews scattered around the country plus her devoted sister in law, Charlotte Ruben of Canton, MA.
To share photos, memories or to send an online condolence, please visit oldbridgefh.com.