By all accounts, the Snoqualmie valley lost one of its most service-minded residents when David Olson passed away on Nov. 6.
Olson, 66, is remembered by those who knew him as a service-driven man who — though he dedicated much of his time to volunteering with his church, his old high school and the food bank — never sought out recognition for himself.
The sense of loss from the community at the news of Olson’s death was expressed in a document compiled by the Snoqualmie Valley Kiwanis club. It contains pages of anecdotes from those who knew him.
“David Olson was a good man with a heart of gold who had a huge impact throughout the Snoqualmie Valley,” one commenter wrote.
One entry reminisces about a time when someone needed a t-shirt during a service project, and Olson took his off and offered it to them.
“The Snoqualmie Valley is diminished by his loss, but his spirit will always be with us,” wrote Mark Hennig, director of the Night on a Dark Trail event. “Those of us who knew him are all better persons for having worked with him.”
Olson volunteered at the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank. He opened and closed the North Bend Community Church every week. He volunteered for the Night on a Dark Trail event year after year. He was the Kiwanis advisor for the Mt. Si High School Key Club. And he faithfully showed up to every North Bend City Council meeting.
During the city council’s Nov. 17 meeting, council members took time remembering Olson. They recounted how he was always the first person to walk up and shake their hands before each meeting.
And at the food bank, Olson came in every Monday and Tuesday to lend a hand. He took inventory, did heavy lifting as he moved 50 lb bags of potatoes and onions, and cleaned up and stocked shelves. He would also carefully organize the storage shed, and knew what was in stock by memory.
When the coronavirus pandemic made it unsafe for Olson to keep volunteering, he would still stop in to check on the food bank, wrote An Wynants, operations manager for the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank, on the compilation document.
“He was so worried about everybody else, that he didn’t need much for himself. He was happy with little things: a good book, his bible, a friendly word, and a good hug when he felt a little down,” Wynants wrote.
Olson was born on March 8, 1954 in Bellingham. Shortly after, his family moved to North Bend, where he grew up and spent his life.
His sister, Judy Tamigniaux, said North Bend was where he wanted to be — his home and community.
“He had a lot of friends. We had family friends,” she said. “North Bend has always been a nice, small town community where you know your neighbors and they look out for each other.”
Tamigniaux remembers growing up with her brother, going to youth group and singing in choir. She eventually moved out of the valley, but Olson stayed.
He helped their father when he was battling cancer, and continued much of the community service their father had done, after he died.
Olson was born with a low birth weight which led to some developmental disabilities. But he never let that limit him.
Harold Erland, with the North Bend Community Church and Kiwanis club, knew Olson his whole life. His parents were good friends with Olson’s parents, and as they grew older, they ended up working together at the church and the club.
“He was just an integral part of anything he got involved in,” Erland said. “He was the kind of person you wouldn’t know was doing all the things he was doing, unless you knew him… he’s the most unforgettable person I’ve ever met.”
But despite Olson’s dedication to community service, and his admiration from those who worked with him, he was remembered as someone who didn’t seek recognition.
“I love the word ‘humble’ that was used,” wrote one person on Olson’s memorial document. “He never sought recognition for himself but worked in the background simply doing what needed to be done. I’m feeling like James 4:10 fits David – ‘Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.’ I’m sure his humble spirits is being exalted as he joins his family in heaven now.”
Still, those in the valley did take notice. He was awarded the 2011 Community Spirit Award by the city of North Bend, and the Unsung HeroSpirit of the Valley award in 2015.
A memorial service for friends and family will be held in the future, when it’s safe to congregate again, his sister said.
“I’m very grateful to the people of North Bend and the community for being a part of his life, and all the things that they gave to him,” Tamigniaux said.