Barbara Jean Olsen-Gillenwater passed away in Eureka on January 22, 2020 at the age of 102. Barbara was born in the Old St. Joseph hospital in Eureka on June 7, 1917 to Vern and Marrion (VanMeter) Davis. She lived her whole life in Humboldt County. Barbara was preceded in death by her two husbands Norman Olsen Sr. and George Gillenwater, her sister Harriet Farr, her brothers Jim and Stan Davis and her son Norman (Bud) Olsen Jr.

Barbara’s working career was spent in the children’s department at the old Daly Brothers department store and at McGaraghan’s Apparel in Henderson Center. After work, she loved to square dance competitively and was an active member of The Humboldt HoeDowners and Arford’s Barn Owls for many years.

She loved to spend summers and weekends at her cabin in Bridgeville which barely survived the great 1964 flood. She spent many years there creating fond memories with her family and friends.

Later in life, Barbara and her second husband George Gillenwater were active members of First Covenant Church in Eureka and the Humboldt Kitchenaires and had many friends in both places.

Barbara is survived by her daughter Norma Neville, grandchildren Rebecca and Eric Olsen, Trent Hauger and his wife Jackie, Stacey Brandenburg and her husband Mark Geiger, Stan Brandenburg and his wife Jeannine, Laurie Neville and Conrad Neville and his wife Deanna. Additionally she has many, many great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren who will miss her and loved her dearly.

Barbara loved people and she never missed a chance for a good party or get together. She was fun to be around and a blessing to those who knew her. We will miss her laughter, her wry sense of humor and the wisdom and guidance that came from living a long, full life.

Special thanks to the staff of Alder Bay assisted living whom she was very fond of and treated her kindly.

Friends and family are invited to a celebration of life service and reception for Barbara on Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 1 p.m. at First Covenant Church, 2526 J St., Eureka.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Barbara Olsen-Gillenwater’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.