OLSON, Capt. Donald M., USN (Ret.), of Richmond, Va., transitioned to eternal life on Thursday, December 16, 2021.
Don was born on August 28, 1942, in Tacoma, Washington. He graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1963 and was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Navy through the NROTC program. He later obtained his Master of Science in Administration degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Don proudly served in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service for 28 years. Immediately after commissioning, he reported to the U.S.S. SABLEFISH (SS 303) prior to attending Submarine School and Nuclear Power Training. He subsequently served in U.S.S. SARGO (SSN 583) as a Division Officer, U.S.S. ANDREW JACKSON (SSBN 619) GOLD as Engineer Officer and U.S.S. CAVALLA (SSN 684) as Executive Officer. Don commanded U.S.S. NARWHAL (SSN 671) from August 1977 through January 1982. During his tour, the ship was twice awarded the Battle Efficiency “E” and was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation. He also commanded PORTSMOUTH (SSN 707) pre-commissioning unit and U.S.S. PORTSMOUTH (SSN 707) from March 1982 to April 1984.
His staff assignments included duty on the Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board for the Atlantic Fleet, Deputy Commander, Submarine Squadron SEVEN, Deputy Commander, Submarine Squadron ONE, Tactical Readiness Officer for COMSUBPAC and Deputy Chief of Staff for Tactical Warfare Readiness and Training for COMSUBLANT.
Don commanded Submarine Squadron TWO from April 1987 to June 1989. He retired from the U.S. Navy in April 1991.
Personal decorations earned included the Legion of Merit (three awards), the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), the Navy Commendation Medal (two awards) and the Navy Achievement Medal (two awards), among many others. Don, Sharon and their boys were stationed around the world and served at various times in Groton, Connecticut (twice); Honolulu, Hawaii (twice); Charleston, South Carolina; Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Virginia. Throughout all of these deployments, Don always made time for his boys, Chris and Jeff, serving as soccer coach and Cub Scout den leader, among other activities.
Following his distinguished career in the Navy, Don joined Dominion Power in 1991 in Richmond, where he worked in the Nuclear Technical Support Department reviewing and evaluating nuclear plant operations, while also recommending improvements to safety and plant operations. He retired from Dominion in 2008.
In retirement, Don enjoyed traveling around the world with Teresa, spending time with his sons, grandchildren and friends, catching up with his many Navy shipmates, skiing, improving his golf game and enjoying the great outdoors. He was a member of St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Richmond. Don generously gave his time to volunteer for his church and his financial resources for charities important to him.
He is survived by his devoted wife of 11 years, Teresa H. Olson; two loving sons and daughters-in-law, Christopher and Gretchen Olson of Brentwood, Tennessee and Jeffrey and Maril Olson of Arlington, Virginia; four beloved grandsons, 1st Lt. Colin Olson, USMC of Jacksonville, North Carolina, LTJG Christopher Olson, USN of Norfolk, Virginia and Henry Olson and Eliot Olson of Arlington, Virginia; and a beloved granddaughter, Catherine Olson of Brentwood, Tennessee. He is also survived by his dear sister, Robin Clemmons of Waxahachie, Texas; and brother, Ron Olson of Santa Cruz, California.
He was predeceased by his wife of 37 years, Sharon Louise Nyere Olson, in 2001.
Services will be held on January 15, 2022, at 10 a.m. at St. Paul’s Baptist Church, 4247 Creighton Road, followed by interment at 12 p.m. in Westhampton Memorial Park in Richmond. COVID-19 protocols will be in place at St. Paul’s, to include providing proof of vaccination.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Capt. Donald M. Olson, USN (Ret.) to the Dolphin Scholarship Foundation, supporting the education of members of the U.S. Submarine Force and their dependents, at dolphinscholarship.org.
Published by Richmond Times-Dispatch on Jan. 2, 2022.