Jon Westby Olson

Go Fund Me for Jon’s children

Thomas Thorpe has initiated a Go Fund Me page for Ruth and Gabe. The money will go into a trust her Uncle Joe is creating for them. Here’s the link:


Jon Westby Olson, 53, died on September 4th, 2022, after a lengthy struggle with three difficult diseases. Born on December 10th, 1968, to Kate and David Olson in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jon completed his education with a BFA from Augsburg College in Minneapolis. He obtained his teaching certification shortly thereafter and taught for a time in Minnesota before moving to Colorado in 2001 for a job at Montview Elementary in Aurora, Colorado as an art teacher. While working there he met Jennifer Olson, (née Bandel), whom he married and with whom he had two children, Ruth and Gabe. Although Jon and Jen divorced, he retained joint custody.

Jon is survived by his two children, Ruth and Gabe Olson of Aurora, CO, his three maternal aunts, Anne Johnson of Winston-Salem NC, Sarah Johnson of Belews Creek NC, Rebekah Johnson of NYC NY/Tetonia ID, his stepfather, Charles Buckman-Ellis of Conifer CO,  his stepbrother Lt. Col Joseph Buckman -Ellis of Honolulu HIand scores of devoted friends.

The children will be receiving visitors from 11am – 1pm Sunday September 11 at their mother’s house at . Following the visitation there will be a zoom remembrance opportunity for those unable to come to Denver on short notice. 2:30 pm MT  link for zoom service

A celebration of Jon and his art at the Downtown Aurora Visual Artists cooperative is in the planning stages as part of the DAVA annual artists showcase in January. More information will be forthcoming.

In lieu of flowers please consider making a contribution to the GoFundMe account set up for the children by Jon’s dear friend, Thomas Thorpe.

Those are details. Here’s what’s important. Jon lived life with the different drummer’s drum strapped to his chest. He created art from crushed metal he found by the roadside, cleaning it, and running it through a printing press after inking it up. An artist’s collective included a print of his in a juried show at the Spark Gallery in Denver this May.

Jon gave careful and thoughtful guidance to Gabe and Ruth, especially as they entered their teenage years. They both are different drummer’s, too, and needed Jon to help them navigate life.

Jon gardened and well in the harsh climate of arid, mile-high Denver. Tomatoes. Potatoes. Jalapenos. Herbs.

Teaching art to elementary kids and advancing racial justice while doing that made Jon’s teaching career one he loved with all his heart. He was a key member of the racial justice team at Montview for most of his time teaching there.

But when asked what was the core of his life, he would say, “Skiing is when I’m myself.” While in his 20’s, Jon took time to ski with his stepbrother, Joseph, every weekend for several years. The two also skied together often during the three years Joe lived in Breckenridge. As Ruth grew, she and her dad went to A-basin often. Jon also made his own skis with the careful attention to detail of an artist.

Jon is dead now. His life continues in his children, his art, and his extended family. We all miss him.


This entry was posted in Family, Feelings, Fourth Phase. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Jon Westby Olson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.