Obituary of Elissa Maria Olsen
Elissa Maria Olsen, age 68, died unexpectedly yet peacefully on July 8, 2021. She is survived by her daughter, Benita Olsen, and three grandchildren, Aj, Ava, and Emmie, all of whom were the light of her life.
Elissa hailed from Wisconsin and graduated from the Wisconsin School for the Deaf at the age of 16. She went on to earn both a Bachelor of Science and Masterof Science Degree from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) where Elissa returned to work after a tenure with both General Motors and Electronic Data Systems (EDS). Elissa recently retired in June 2021 from NTID/RIT (National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT) where she spent most of her career as an educator and Chair for the Information and Computing Studies Department.
Elissa was a very generous, witty, yet humble individual who thoroughly enjoyed being involved with numerous groups and organizations throughout her lifetime. Deaf Women of Rochester (DWR), the National Association of the Deaf Youth Leadership Camp (YLC) from which she was an alumnus (‘69), Eastern Deaf Women’s Bowling Association (EDWBA), Rochester Recreation Club for the Deaf (RRCD), and Camp Mark 7 in Old Forge, NY, to name a few. She loved being active and involved with making the Deaf community better for all. Throughout her lifetime and career, Elissa was honored with many accolades and awards for her services and accomplishments in academics, her career, and community for which there are too many to list; however, in 2011, she was bestowed with the honor of being named Deaf Woman of the Year, which she took great personal pride in. When Elissa was not busy with her job, events and committees, she loved to travel, enjoyed nature, camping, playing games - especially euchre, bowling, laughing, playing pranks whenever she could (she was the class clown), and of course spending time with her friends and family, with whom she had an extremely strong bond. Her iconic smile and mischievous grin will forever be a reminder of her truly great spirit that touched us all.
Besides her daughter and grandchildren, Elissa is survived by many who loved her dearly including her siblings: Lorna Olsen, Yvonne Catt, Ingrid (Michael) Struttman, Gretchen (Rick) Lulloff, Halvor (Teri) Halvorsen, Bridget (John) Bakken, 15 nieces & nephews: Dustin, Laraine, Donovan, David, Valerie, Holly, Bennett, Bjorn, Brian, Zachary, Aric, Amy, Cody, Kelsey, and Kristen, along with several great nieces and nephews, cousins, friends, special lifelong friend, Patti Spiecker & family, and companion Beth Corker. She is preceded in death by her parents: Wilfred & Elizabeth Olsen, Bjorn & Les Ann Halvorsen, nephew, Coltin, and most recently, her brother-in-law, David Catt.
A celebration of life will be held this fall in Rochester, New York. The location, day, and time will be announced at a later date. In the interim, donations may be made in Elissa’s name to these organizations which she held close to her heart throughout her life:
Youth Leadership Camp Alumni Foundation - The primary mission is to “motivate young people to explore their true potential as persons that they are meant to be -- on their own”.
Holiday House of Manitowoc County (Now called Ascend Services) is a private, not-for-profit charitable organization that provides services to individuals with exceptional abilities in a variety of settings.
Camp Mark 7 (CM7) offers an array of recreational, educational, leadership and spiritual programs for deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing individuals of all ages.
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