William "Bill" Dale Olson

April 7, 1933 ~ July 3, 2022 (age 89)


William Dale “Bill” Olson, 89, passed away from natural causes in the early minutes of July 3, 2022, following a day of visits on July 2 from children, grandchildren, one grand dog, and the tender care of his wife, Diana.

   The Idaho legal community lost one of its finest, the Olson family lost its father, grandfather, and biggest basketball fan, and Diana lost her dance partner of nearly 62 years.

   Bill was born in Mullan, Idaho, during the depression. His father, Elvin, died of pneumonia contracted in the silver mines when Bill was three, leaving his mother Chrystine to raise Bill, his three older brothers, and his older sister. At age 6, Bill spent six months at St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise where doctors operated on his back and nurses struggled to keep him from racing the halls in his hospital bed. Back in Mullan with all of the Olson boys, Bill experienced the grand adventures of small-town northern Idaho, hopping trains, hitchhiking to the ski hill, learning to jump the creek so he wouldn’t be left behind on fishing trips, and taking the bus for exotic high school basketball trips to Coeur d’Alene and western Montana.

   Bill attended Idaho State University, where he served as student body president and majored in journalism. He spent summers working for the U.S. Forest Service as a fire spotter, where his greatest skill was scrambling down from his platform at chow time to get his share of food ahead of the much bigger and more numerous firefighters. After graduating from Idaho State in 1956, Bill received a scholarship to attend Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. He worked for his room and board as a bus boy and server for a sorority.

   Bill moved back to Idaho in 1959 where he made three decisions that would shape the rest of his life. He went to work as a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Fred M. Taylor in Boise, and after meeting Diana Ortega on a blind date in Pocatello, he married her on July 23, 1960. Finally, after his clerkship, Bill went to work with Louis F. Racine, Jr., in Pocatello, forming the law firm that eventually became Racine Olson and where Bill worked the rest of his legal career.

   As a lawyer, Bill was known for his intelligence, professionalism, litigation skill, and mentorship. He was old school. He fished, played golf, attended Idaho State Bar annual meetings, and Idaho State sporting events (“Go Bengals Go!”) with his law partners – and with opposing counsel. He was also new school, advocating for opportunities for his daughters that were equal to those of his son. Bill was proud to be a member of the Idaho State Bar for more than 60 years. He was honored with the Bar’s highest award in 2008, the Distinguished Lawyer Award. He enjoyed the company of the many fine lawyers he practiced with and against. He was a lawyer’s lawyer, serving each client with the zealous advocacy and each court with the complete candor the rules of professional responsibility required.

   Bill regaled his children and grandchildren with stories of the Mullan High Tiger basketball teams he played on, and he enjoyed attending their basketball games and other sporting events (although not so much soccer). He taught his children to ski off of the steep first tee box at Riverside Golf Course, and he encouraged their golf and tennis exploits. He tracked his grandchildren’s basketball statistics, and tried desperately to teach them his hook shot. He was their biggest fan (even in soccer).

Bill loved Pocatello and all that it offered – Idaho State, his law firm, great friends, access to great fishing, and hills he could run his dogs in. Bill was an excellent pet parent to many a Labrador retriever and one lucky found-by-the-side-of-the-road dog.

   Bill and Diana enjoyed traveling throughout their marriage, often with friends from Pocatello, with adventures in New Zealand, Australia, Tahiti, much of Europe, and across the United States. They enjoyed New Year’s Eve dances at Pocatello’s Juniper Hills Country Club, where Bill was the most sought-after jitterbug partner. Bill’s dancing, traveling and cheering days provide warm memories for all who knew him.

   Bill is survived by his wife, Diana, his children William Taylor (Sara), Wendy (Craig Kreiser) and Zoe Ann (Eric Geyer), his seven grandchildren, Taylor, Trevor and Tanner Olson, Abby and Olivia Kreiser, and K and Jesse Olson-Geyer, and his brother Ken (Dorothy). He was preceded in death by his parents, Elvin and Chrystine Olson, his sister Lucille and his brothers LeRoy and Robert. The family is planning a memorial service for later this year. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Bill’s name to the charity of your choice.


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