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Home » Campus News Latest » Obituaries » Dr. Pamela “Pam” Olsen ’68

Pamela “Pam” Olsen of Post Falls, ID, died suddenly on March 29, 2020. Pam was born in Ogden, UT, on April 29, 1944, to Edwin Carl Olsen, Jr. and Anita Ruby Hargis. She attended Polk School and Central Jr. High, where she studied German. Her knowledge of German made it possible for her to spend her junior year of high school in Switzerland as an American Field Service student. She lived with a Swiss family, whom she remained friends with until her death. Her parents moved while she was away, so she graduated from Highland High in Salt Lake City in 1962.

From 1962-1968 Pam attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH, majoring in Anthropology and Sociology. Antioch had a cooperative work-study program, requiring students to work a total of 90 weeks in various jobs, and complete 180 academic credits in a year-round five-year program.

The students chose their jobs from a list of college-accepted programs, according to their interests. Pam was already interested in psychology, so she chose jobs in mental hospitals and community organizations in NJ, AZ, AK, NC and CA.

After graduation from Antioch, Pam went to Chinle, AZ, where she took a six-week intensive course in the Navajo language, and then taught Navajo students for two years at the Rough Rock Demonstration School (now called the Rough Rock Community School). The mission at Rough Rock was to allow and foster pride in the children re: their native language and culture, while also preparing them for life in a predominately Anglo world.

Navajo staff, many of them traditional Navajos who spoke little or no English, were active in every classroom, contributing to the children’s education about their future.

Throughout the rest of her life Pam maintained an interest in the Navajo people, friendships with Navajos she met at Rough Rock, and a love of the Southwest.

In 1971 Pam returned to Ohio, where she worked for two years in group mental health settings for children. Her desire to become a psychologist had become firm after these experiences, and from 1973 to 1984 she studied psychology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. She completed her Master’s degree in 1974 and her Ph.D in in 1985, while also working part-time in various mental health settings.

Although she attended college and graduate school in the East, Pam always felt her roots were in the West. In 1984 she moved to Coeur d’Alene, ID, to take a position as Coordinator of Children’s Services for Region I Mental Health, State of Idaho.

In 1987 she opened her private practice, which she continued until her death. Pam was very creative and adventurous. Soon after moving to Idaho she purchased land up on the mountain above Post Falls, ID, to build her dream house. She studied many types of houses and how to build them and decided she wanted to build a timber frame house. She attended a two-week seminar about timber frame construction and formed a strong bond with the specialist who led the seminar and other attendees. They agreed that when she was ready to start building they would move to Idaho for a year and help her build her house. This they did. Pam was young, strong, and energetic and did part of the actual construction. Some of the timbers in the house came from trees on her land.

Over the years Pam created vegetable gardens where she grew her own produce and beautiful flower gardens. She had always loved to sew, made clothing and decorative items for her home, and then found her love in quilt making, which she did for several years.

Her professional work with people, her home and her land were her life. Pam was very attuned to nature and the ecology around her. She delighted in the wild flowers and wild animals on her land, and the ever-changing seasons. She lived in her home until her death. Friends were very important to Pam, and most friends she made she kept close for many years, some for her entire life.

One such friend was Peter Mikuliak ’67, whom she met at Antioch College and with whom she maintained a correspondence throughout the years after college. In 1997 he moved to Coeur d’Alene, and in 1998 they married. Sadly, Peter became ill and died in 2000.

Pam is survived by her sister, Carolyn L. Olsen (David Ellison); her sister-in-law Rebeca “Becky” V. Olsen; her nieces Evelyn L. Wright (Scott Baber), Ina Olsen (Ian) Wells, Rebeca Olsen (Cory) Jacobsen, nephews Edwin C. “Char” Olsen IV, Harold “Eric” R. (Nora) Olsen, and Christopher (Nicole) Olsen. She was predeceased by her parents and step-father, Ralph L. Frederickson, her half-brother Edwin “Ted” Carl Olsen III, and her husband Peter Mikuliak.

Pam was an active member of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Spokane, WA. She was laid to rest in Riverside Cemetery in Spokane, in a natural setting near the Holy Trinity Lawn. A memorial plaque will also be placed in the Olsen family plot in Leavitt’s Altorest Memorial Garden in Ogden, Utah. Pam died way too soon. She still had many dreams to fulfill. She is deeply missed by her family and many friends.