Obituary : Judith H. Olson
Judith Helen Freiman Olson died on February 25 at her home in Edgartown at the age of 66. At her bedside were her sister Susan and her husband Richard. After 22 years of periodic treatments she succumbed to breast cancer.
Judith was born in New York City, second daughter of Israel Freiman and Elizabeth Goodman. Her father was a neurologist and her mother a psychiatrist.
She graduated from Hunter College Elementary School and Birch Wathen. She received her undergraduate degree from Vassar and graduate degree from Simmons. In 1964, she became a Massachusetts Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and began a 32-year career in hospital social work. Following nine years at Massachusetts General Hospital and Cambridge Hospital, she was named Director of Social Work and Continuing Care at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge where she served for 13 years. Next, she moved with her husband to Worcester where she served for seven years as Administrative Director of Social Service, Human and Community Services at Saint Vincent Hospital.
In 1995, Ms. Olson moved to Martha's Vineyard to become Director of Social and Volunteer Services and Manager of Counseling Services at Martha's Vineyard Community Hospital. Since 1997, she has worked as a clinician and social worker for Island agencies including Community Services, Vineyard Nursing Association, and carried on a rewarding private practice in psychotherapy with adult and geriatric clients.
In 1989, the Massachusetts Chapter for which she was president in 1983 named her the Hospital Social Work Director of the Year. The Saint Vincent Healthcare System awarded her with its highest employee recognition, the Quality Rose, in 1993. In 2002, she was presented with a hand-lettered and individually signed plaque for her work as Coordinator of the Prostate Cancer Support Group numbering 10-15 members. It reads, "To Judy, with great affection - Your Boys." Responses to the news of her illness brought dozens of moving testimonies to her understanding, sympathetic, and generous spirit. She will be greatly missed.
In each of the communities where she has worked, Judy served on many civic and agency boards with a special focus on cancer survival. On the Vineyard, she served terms as Chairman of the Cancer Support Group Board. She is a member of Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Center and has served on the vestry of St. Andrew's Church. Over her career, she was a sought-after lecturer and seminar leader at over a dozen professional conferences.
She is survived by her husband of 28 years, the Rev. Richard E. Olson. They were married at Harvard's Memorial Church in a dual ceremony led by Rabbi Lewis Ginsburg and the Rev. Henry Horn. Judy marked her Bat Mitzvah in 1954 at the Jewish Reconstructionist Society in New York. In 1984, she was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Worcester.
She is also survived by her sister, Susan, of Haifa, Israel. During her final weeks of treatment she enjoyed the loving care of her family by marriage: John and Deborah Judd and son John of Arlington, Dennis and Lisa Fitzgibbons, Andrew and Kelsey of Yarmouth, Maine, Rebecca Olson and Denis Wogan of Cambridge. Her wish to spend her last weeks at home was fulfilled by the daily care provided by the Vineyard Nursing Association.
Her funeral will be in St. Andrew's Church in Edgartown on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 28, at 2 pm. Burial will be in the New West Side Cemetery in Edgartown. A reception will follow in the St. Andrew's Parish Hall.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to the Martha's Vineyard Cancer Support Group, P.O. Box 2214, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 and to the Vineyard Nursing Association, P.O. Box 2568, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.
Arrangements are under the care of Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs. Please visit ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.