Albany — Sacred Heart Sister Karen Olson died May 18, 2021, in Albany. She was 84 years old and a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart for 62 years.
Sister Karen was born on April 22, 1937, in Syracuse, the only daughter of Axel Olson and Madeleine Byrne Olson. Her early education was at the Convents of the Sacred Heart, 91st Street in New York City, and Kenwood in Albany. She graduated from Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart with a B.A. in biology in 1958 and an M.A. in education in 1966. She also earned an MSA in administration from the University of Notre Dame in 1979. Sister Karen entered the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1958 at Kenwood and pronounced her first vows in 1961. She made her final profession in Rome in 1967.
Sister Olson taught at two Sacred Heart schools in Michigan and one in Rochester. She was in charge of finances, building management, and purchasing at Convents of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich and Noroton, Conn. She also served as assistant head of middle school at Greenwich; middle school teacher in Bethesda, Md.; teacher and head of a school in Princeton, N.J.; and principal of a school in St. Louis.
She then had a one-year sabbatical, during which she went to Paris and Rome before a program in Biblical Studies in the Holy Land. She had other stints in Bethesda and Poughkeepsie.
In 2014, Sister Karen wrote a biography of Saint Philippine for middle school students titled “Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne: A Dream Come True.” Sister Karen was known for her wide grin and simultaneously raised eyebrows! She loved nature, especially Acadia National Park in Maine.
Sister Karen officially retired in 2017 when she joined the Avila Community in Albany, where she was a much loved member. Last fall, as her health declined, Sister Olson decided to move to Teresian House where she had been attending daily Mass and where she could receive the care she needed.
Sister Karen’s brother, Eric, died in 1994. Sister Karen is survived by her brother, Peter (Ann) Olson, and 10 loving nieces and nephews: Lars (Ruth), Sean (Susan), Kristen (Michael) Stevens, Marta (James) Henderson, Jennie (Ken) Minor, Nels (Kristen), Mark (Mary), Sven (Sheenal), Katrin, and Gunnar (Tonya). The funeral Mass was celebrated for her on May 29 at Immaculate Conception Church, Fayetteville. It was livestreamed at www.icfayetteville.org/funerals.