In Memory

Dorothy Dee (Cross) Olsen -Teacher VIEW PROFILE

History Provided by Caren Olsen:

Dorothy Dee Cross, my Mom, known as Mrs. Olsen, was born in Los Angeles and moved to Mazatlan, Mexico, with her Father and Mother, Mr. and Mrs. George Cross. Her family owned a gold mine, the Elephant Mine, in Mexico until she was 14 years old. She attended school there all those years. They returned to L. A. where she finished high school and attended UCLA, BA in Spanish(languages) and History. She received her Masters at USC. She also majored in Journalism, her love.

Close to the end of WW II, she taught soldiers Spanish and English in Pasadena. There she met my Dad and married after the war. They moved to Ojai in 1944 or 1945, where she began teaching Spanish at all the elementary private schools, such as Monica Ros, Ojai Valley School, Happy Valley School, Villanova, and even some of the public schools. She was a traveler. During these times, she gave birth to myself and my brother, Steve, two years later.

Years later, she taught Spanish, History, and Typing at Nordhoff High School for 32 years. For many years, she became involved in teaching ESL, the (bilingual) parents in the evenings. She translated legal documents for lawyers, as well as writing a book ( a guide) for the Ojai School District "Teaching ESL in the Elementary Schools". She recorded (records I have) and published a few bilingual children's books.

Mrs. Olsen, my MOM, enjoyed helping others and was involved in many local clubs and fundraisers for children, especially The Mexican Fiesta to raise money for scholarships.

Her loves were babies, children, teaching, languages, reading, writing books and articles, her music (My Mom had been a concert pianist in college), and most importantly her family, as she lovingly reminded us frequently.

She did not have time to enjoy a retirement, as she became ill, took time off, and died relatively young from lung cancer in 1984. WE still miss her, her strong, uplifting spirit, and her patience, calmness, and positive outlook on life, while helping others and most importantly, her family.

For her services to the community, her names is engraved on a plaque in front of Libby Bowl.

In fond memory of my Mother, Dorothy Dee Olsen.

Caren Dee Olsen, her daughter

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12/28/09 09:58 PM #1    

Timothy (Ty) Krauss

Wow, Caren it is amazing to read of your Mom's life and all the things she was involved in and all that she accomplished. So many talents, so many interests and add the excitement of living in another country during the formative years. I never took Spanish, French and Latin instead, so I did not experience her classroom, my loss I am sure. I was equally impressed with Mr. Milroy's history.
Full of surprises, I guess we had an all star staff at Nordhoff and I mostly didn't realize it....teenage hubris.

Curiously my Mom's name is Dee (I never knew of that connection either) She is still with us, 90 now, but is experiencing a tough time with many failing systems. It is a challenge but we were blessed to have her so long.

Take care, and have a great 2010....Ty
PS: thanks for sharing, learning more about our high school staff was my main request for Blair.

12/29/09 04:09 AM #2    

Zandra Stroud (Mueller)

Your Mom was amazing. Thank you for sharing her life history with all of us. She certainly had many wonderful talents. Nordhoff and all her students were quite lucky. Her background qualified her to do many things. I am so glad that we at Nordhoff were the lucky people who enjoyed her abilities. Thanks. Zandy

12/29/09 04:57 PM #3    

Jeananette/Jean Poulis (Parker)

Who Knew? Thank you for posting this great story. Jeananette

08/17/12 06:06 PM #4    

Katy Shaffer (Johnson)

I never had any classes with  Mrs. Olsen, but I knew her instad as "Caren's Mother".  When I would go to see Caren, she would answer the door in her slippers, and was always so welcoming.  She seemed like a happy lady at home when she was doing things in the kitchen while Caren and I were in her bedroom doing things girls do at that age.  I loved her car.  The car said what her spirit was like.  She was not afraid to share her spirit with others, and tried to invoke the same spirit in her students from what I have heard and read. 

     I was surprised to read about the gold mine, and Mrs. Olsen's family liivng in Mexico.  I had no idea that she had lived in Mexico.  Caren has carried on the tradition of being a spanish teacher, and I think she still teaches a bi-lingual class in Santa Paula at McKevett School I think...correct me Caren if I am wrong.  She has a daughter, who would be Mrs. Olsen's grand daughter who is also following in the footsteps of her grandmother and mother.  She would have been so happy to know that she has two great granc children...a boy and a girl, and would have taught them Spanish from the crib, as I wonder if Caren has done with them.  What a wonderful path to follow in, with such a strong mother and grandmother and great greandmother, I am sure you will agree Caren that she was one strong woman, who shared her strength with her family and students as well.  She will be a part of her children's life that lives on, not only in them, but in their children and grandchildren. 

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