Bonnie Kendel Olesen, 78, of Fortuna, passed away on September 7, 2020. Bonnie was born on August 17, 1942 in Scotia, to Homer and Clara (Bonnie) Batson. In her early years, her family moved around the state often and she did not have a settled life until her dad, who was a well driller for Texaco, got a permanent assignment tending the gas wells on Tompkins Hill in 1950. 

Bonnie graduated from Fortuna High in 1960 and went to work for Bank of America in Fortuna. In early 1962 on a blind date, she met the love of her life, Gerald (Jerry) Olesen, who had just been drafted into the army and was home on leave from Fort Ord. Jerry was soon sent to Germany and they were apart for a year and one-half, but the spark of love had been ignited and they wrote endless letters across the miles.

When Jerry returned home, their proper courtship began and they were married on July 31, 1965 by Fr. James Gabriel at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Eureka. Their newspaper wedding announcement had a misprint, which, instead of an intimate wedding, proclaimed it to have been an “intime” wedding. It was, indeed, as their first child Wendy was born 10 months later. Their second child, Nancy, arrived just 17 months after that. Bonnie was able to stay at home to raise these two wonderful girls and they, in turn, brought on the next generation of the family. Wendy and Doug McKinney have two children, Ryan and Erin, and Nancy and Mike Fox have three, Sam, Kate, and Caroline. Over the years, even though the McKinneys live in Illinois and the Foxes live in Northern Los Angeles County, Bonnie and Jerry were able to stay close to them with many road trips and much email and phone contact. The families have been the joy of Bonnie’s life and she was a greatly adored grandma by all.

Bonnie’s other great love was anything “crafty.” Over her lifetime, her talented hands made many, many beautifully finished creations, especially her endless quilts. Her hands could never be idle, always trying something new. She was very generous, and loved giving away many of the wonderful things she made.

Bonnie brought light to many people with her ever-present happy face. She had many good friends from whom she received much love in return.

In 2008, Bonnie was welcomed into the Roman Catholic Church. She had attended St. Joseph Catholic Church in Fortuna with her family, since she agreed to raise her children in the faith, but she truly embraced the faith after her conversion. She loved her faith and she was right with God. Her family especially wants to thank Fr. Eddie Ramon for giving her a wonderful sacramental send-off just before she took her final breath. 

A private mass of christian burial will be celebrated at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Fortuna. Interment will be in Sunrise Cemetery in Fortuna. Memorial donations may be made to Covenant House, Doctors Without Borders, or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 


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