Jean Ann Olsen, 79, passed away Friday, July 16, 2021, at Northcrest Community in Ames.
A celebration of her life will be held from 12 Noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, August 7, 2021, in the pergola at Northcrest Community in Ames. Masks are required. The burial of her cremated remains will be at Oakwood Cemetery in Rochester, MN at a later date.
Jean was born March 28, 1941, to William and Lucille Schacht at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, MN. As a girl, Jean spent family vacations with her parents and three sisters witnessing natural wonder, collecting rocks, fossils, shells, and various natural treasurers. Both parents were avid gardeners, and Jean took interest in that and everything biological.
As an undergraduate at Carleton College, Jean majored in biology with an emphasis in botany. Afterward, she earned a Master of Science degree in cell biology at the University of Oregon in Eugene. During her working years as an electron microscopist, she studied plants at the University of Oregon, marine life at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, and a variety of human diseases and tissues at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. At Iowa State University in Ames, IA she worked with viruses, bacteria, and diseases found in farm animals.
Although Jean is a relatively quiet person who enjoys reading, one of her outlets was Middle Eastern belly dancing. She performed for about fifteen years and made all her own costumes and beaded apparel. In addition, Jean enjoyed sewing, knitting, cross-stitching, and numerous other crafts.
Jean was an avid ballroom dancer for 25 years. She and her long-time friend, Mark M. Mehl, attended many of the Friday ballroom socials hosted by the ISU Ballroom Dance Club. On occasion, they would dance at the Lake Robbins Ballroom as well. They danced the waltz, foxtrot, swing, tango, and cha cha, but rumba was their favorite.
Jean also enjoyed gardening. She raised many daylilies at her Ferndale apartment in Ames, which she donated to the Northcrest Retirement Community in Ames upon transitioning there. Once at Northcrest, she began more vegetable gardening specializing in various kinds of tomatoes and peppers. Indoors, she always kept many Christmas cactuses, succulents, and amaryllis plants.
Finally, Jean enjoyed making, sharing, and teaching paper crafting. Her favorite was folding intricate Scandinavian stars and butterflies from multicolored papers. She also formed crafts by painting pine cones, milkweed pods, and rocks of all kinds. Her creativity seemed endless.
Jean is survived by her sisters, Susan Rislove and Nancy Schacht; seven nieces and nephews; 15 great-niece and nephews; six great-great nieces and nephews; and special friend Mark Mehl. She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard Olsen; parents; sister, Martha Scudamore; brother-in-law, David Rislove; and great-nephew, Brady Kragenbring.