Remembering Meryl Olsen
By Sue Frazer, a dear friend and colleague of Meryl Olsen
Meryl was a reader. She read widely, deeply and carefully, thinking always of the issues on which her sophisticated knowledge was engaged. She was also a dedicated activist. She made available her large library of books, magazines, journals and clippings to all. Meryl always seemed to come up with an answer to questions posed. As a hopeful educationalist, she distributed piles of relevant material to all the meetings she attended. She used all opportunities to advance peace and justice.
"Take a personal stand," was the title of an article of June 19, 1991, one of the many articles, letters, briefs and endless minutes and support for petitions that she was always engaged in. She wrote poetry as a change of pace. She was always generous in helping with the work of others, to offer Christian love, support and appreciation. She wrote a fine public letter of thanks for the hard work of Bob Skelly when he retired. Meryl was absolutely dependable in all undertakings and scrupulous in research.
She was loyal to her friends, her church, her political beliefs and to many organizations. These included the Alberni Valley Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament, the Vancouver Island Network for Disarmament, the Nanoose Conversion Campaign, the New Democratic Party, the Canadian Peace Alliance, the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, End the Arms Race, the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout, Physicians for Global Survival, East Timor Alert Network, Ten Days for Social Justice, Council of Canadians, Sunshine Club Creative Writers' Group and the Alberni Valley Creative Writers' Group.
Meryl Joyce Olsen was born on April 6, 1920, at Biggar, Saskatchewan. She attended the University of Saskatchewan, taught at a Catholic school in Oshawa, Ontario, and worked in various capacities in Saskatoon, Regina and Toronto, before moving to Port Alberni. Here she lived a life of utmost simplicity amid a wide circle of friends, sustained by her family, especially by Mary Olsen.
Meryl was a librarian, a painter, carver and needlewoman, good with her hands as well as her mind. Both were forever put to rest on August 12, 1999. She is deeply missed. R.I.P.