Sheila Helen Olson
On Christmas Eve morning, Dec. 24, 2015, Sheila Helen Olson (nee Kempster-Banting) passed away in Ventura, Calif. during her favorite time of the year. Sheila was born in Chicago, Ill. on April 15, 1924. Her parents, Harold and Violet Kempster-Banting had recently emigrated from England and the small family spent several years in the area. As a young child, Sheila and her family returned to England and were joined by her younger sister, Audrey. They lived in Exeter in the south of England. Sheila enjoyed and excelled at school and needlework before World War II intervened.
Like others of the “Greatest Generation,” Sheila looked for ways to participate in the war effort. First, as a young teenager, she joined the Women’s Timber Corps. Interestingly, she received a commemorative pin and certificate only recently. She appreciated it but mentioned that it was a little late! After several years, due to dual citizenship, she joined the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). She was assigned to Eisenhower’s command in Paris, France near the end of the war. One memory she held onto was at the age of 21, sitting in the back of a jeep with a bottle of champagne driving down the Champs-Elysees celebrating the end of the war in Europe.
After the war Sheila worked as a confidential secretary. Soon the family of four returned to Chicago and the sisters began work at First Federal Bank, where Sheila became a loan manager. Mutual friends introduced Sheila to a young Army Air Corps veteran and engineer at Standard Oil, Norman Roger Olson. After a short courtship they were married and Sheila settled into being a homemaker. Their daughter, Catriona, came along soon thereafter and they started to renovate and redecorate a series of homes to accommodate their family. They moved to Highland, Ind. where they both chipped in with VA loans to purchase a home that needed work, like painting in the snow, to satisfy the mortgage terms! After several years, their son, Torquil, was born and Norman joined a partnership and began his own business as a manufacturer’s representative for engineering equipment.
They found time to purchase a small cabin near Norman’s family in Minnesota on the Canadian border near family. They enjoyed the too brief annual pilgrimages to recharge and enjoy family and nature. Next, they moved to the north shore of Chicago to a small town on Lake Michigan, Lake Bluff, Ill. and settled into renovating another home. Together they worked closely as a team. Sheila was especially good at cutting small unusual pieces of wallpaper and painting multiple small window trims with white enamel.
Sheila had time to express her creativity in other ways as well. An accomplished seamstress she branched out to do quilting, beadwork and all forms of needlework. She was an expert knitter. Once, she spent three years creating heirloom quality needlepoint Christmas stockings for her three new grandsons. After their children went off to college, Sheila and Norman couldn’t resist another home challenge and acquired a burned out Victorian home in Lake Bluff and worked with friends and family to renovate and modernize this unique property.
Norman decided to sell his business, and they agreed to retire. Sheila was okay with purchasing a Whidbey Island, Washington Puget Sound home with views of the shipping lanes and the snow-topped Olympic Mountains after only viewing photos. Even at this stage in their life, Sheila and Norman purchased yet another view home in the area and engaged in slight redecorating and their hobbies. Sheila spent more time reading as well, especially cozy mysteries. She always maintained that she couldn’t walk past a yarn shop or bookstore without stopping and buying something. Sheila was a shy, reserved person but managed to develop a few good friends wherever she found herself. Tea time was important.
Sadly, after a dozen years, Norman passed away and Sheila chose to stay in their home for a number of years with the help of a few friends. Upon their recommendations, at the age of 79, she decided to move to Oxnard, Calif. to be near her daughter. Although renting now, she was able to find a nice first floor dockside apartment in the Channel Islands Harbor. She lived there comfortably with help until a few years ago when caregivers and her daughter began to help her daily with care needs. After a year she moved to assisted living in Ventura. First she lived at the Palms for two years then more recently, Traecy Villa.
Sheila was a very intelligent, artistic, caring, and honorable woman. She deeply loved and supported her family in any way she could. She lived well until recently when a series of illnesses made life difficult. Thanks to Cindy and Michelle who helped as home healthcare givers at the apartment and friend Linda who helped in the quick transitions so crucial for Sheila’s care. The family would also like to thank Dr. Robert Feiss and Jill, and Dr. Ann Kelley and Emily (P.A.) for their guidance and assistance over the last several years. The Oakhurst hospice team was and still is a great help and comfort for Sheila and her daughter.
Sheila is survived by her daughter Catriona “Trina” Giacobbe, her husband Paul Giacobbe and their son Paul Christopher Giacobbe, of Oxnard, California. Also surviving are her son Torquil Olson of the Virgin Islands and his sons, Arthur Love and Barton “Ted” Olson. She is also survived by her sister Audrey England, her husband Ron England and their children and grandchildren. Many nieces and nephews on Norman’s side of the family will miss her.
A small family and friend memorial was provided at Ted Mayr Funeral Home and Crematory in Ventura, Calif. A scattering of Sheila’s and Norman’s ashes will take place at a later date.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Ted Mayr Funeral Home, 3150 Loma Vista Road, Ventura. Condolences may be sent to TedMayrFuneralHome.com.