Gone West. Donn Sanford Olmsted was born February 12, 1927, at Roosevelt Hospital in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC, to Russell Conwell Olmsted+ (Civil Engineer) & Hazel Beebe Olmsted+ (Registered Nurse). Siblings were Peter (Louise+, Betty), Stephen+ (Simone+), and Nancy+.
Dad’s children, whom he considered his most important legacy, are Anne Estelle Olmsted, Lisa Lorraine Via (Matt Via), Donn Sanford Olmsted, Jr. (Jan Olmsted), Russell Conwell Olmsted, II, Candace Louise Wilhelm (Jack Wilhelm+), & Susan Marie Watts. Grandchildren brought him great happiness. They are Anne’s April (Keith Vanderpool) & Heather (David Johnson); Lisa’s Tiffany (Jason Johnston) & Lillian; Donn’s Megan (Bryan Magerkuth) & Caitlin ( Jason Lippenberger); Russell’s Emily & Rosalie (Shawn Opdahl); Candace’s Maximillian and Mercedes; & Susan’s Alex (born on Dad’s birthday!), Sam, Finn, & Jake. When great-grandchildren arrived Dad was ecstatic. April has Viivi, Megan has Andrew & Alison, and Alex has Jayden. Dad loved his brothers’ children immensely: Peter’s Andy (Robin) & Rebecca (Ken); and Stephen’s Stephen+, Sandra Moreano (Alex Moreano), Luke+, Mark (David Acuna ), & Erica Chatsworth (whom he nicknamed Miss Kissy).
At Tenafly HS, he sang operetta & at Billard Academy he learned to sail. As he didn’t want to miss WW II, he left school when his parents signed him into the US Navy. In the Pacific Theatre he served on the USS San Juan Jacinto as a top turret gunner. Afterwards he returned to Ballard Academy to obtain a diploma and his master sailing papers which he immediately put to use sailing from the West Coast to Australia as Captain.
Dad was fearless trying new things. Throughout the course of his life he obtained his aviation maintenance certificate, flew as a flight engineer, pilot, expert at parts and supply, troubleshooter for FBOs. At 50, he certified at SCUBA. Working as Special Flight Supervisor in Saudi Arabia, he took up diving, spearing dinner, and harvesting black coral while conserving its reefs. He created numerous pieces of stunning coral jewelry. Everything interested him: books, music, trains, wine-making, bird watching & so much more—just as everyone interested him.
At the age of 93 just a couple weeks short of his 94th birthday, Dad finally used up his nine lives (as Candace noted), spending the last days at the MLPS VA, dying on January 29, 2020. He was given a veteran’s send-off. Generous to the last he donated his body to the University of Minnesota for research.