Faith, family and friends is ‘secret’ to Olsens’ 75th

| August 3, 2017 | 1 Comment

FOUR GENERATIONS celebrated Ken Olsen’s 99th birthday.

Ken (99) and Dickie (96) Olsen of Muirfield Road will have been married 75 years this November.

The couple credit “faith, family and friends” as the secret to their long marriage and to life. The couple raised seven children and volunteered countless hours to St. Anne’s Home, Loyola High Mother’s Club (which Dickie’s mom, Linda Luer Von der Ahe, founded), and others.

After her own children left home, Dickie started volunteering at local schools to read to children.

“She was very unassuming and genuinely kind,” says her daughter Jodi Kelly.

Dickie was a Larchmont Chronicle Woman of Larchmont in 1982.

Dickie and Ken met through Dickie’s brother, a Jesuit, who was living at what was then called Loyola University, and today is Loyola Maryount University.


Ken, a native New Yorker, was in the U.S. Army 7th Regiment which was sent to Los Angeles — his first trip west. Having never been here and arriving in the dark of night, he staked out quarters for his troop on the bluff at Loyola.

“He had no idea, of course, and the next morning he was confronted by Fr. Karl about what he was doing there. Eventually, that same priest asked if a couple of soldiers might want to go to his parent’s house in Hancock Park for dinner, and the rest is history.”

Dickie was attending USC and majoring in music at the time.

Ken’s parents “were poor immigrants, and dad learned early and well the value of a dollar and the rewards of hard work,” said Jodi.

Dickie’s mother was also a native Los Angeleno. Her father was from the mid-west and rode the rails to Los Angeles.

“Dad worked for Standard Oil,” said Jodi, “a company that tried to woo him back to the east coast after the war. He was also pursued by the Army that promised him ranks beyond his captain status.

“But he was smitten not only with Dickie, but also with California with its warm weather. He brought his dad and sister out west to join him because he accepted his father-in-law’s offer to work at Von’s Grocery.”

He worked his way up from meat cutter / butcher through multiple positions to president and CEO. During his tenure as president, Von’s and he were recognized by the Pulitzer Prize of the food industry — the Sidney Rabb Award.

Dickie isn’t as mobile these days, so Ken attends daily mass and brings his wife communion. “He wasn’t always a Catholic. Sometime in his 40s, he came home and announced he was converting.

“Mom had no idea. He’d been researching the idea and praying over it for years because he was motivated by ‘the good person your mother is,’” he told daughter Jodi.

Dickie and Ken were married in 1942 at Cathedral Chapel where all seven children attended grade school as well as St. Brendan’s – “the same church where Tom Kelly and I got married almost 43 years ago and where my brother Ken married his sweetheart two years ago,” concluded Jodi.


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