Audra A. Oleson
Encouraging mother, music lover, dedicated teacher
Audra Alice Anderson Schwendiman Oleson died peacefully in Claremont on December 5, 2013 with her two daughters at her side. She was 97 years old. Her funeral services were held on December 14, 2013 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Claremont. Her internment was on December 18 at Fielding Memorial Park in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where she was buried next to her first husband, Alvin Schwendiman who died December 5, 1946.
Mrs. Oleson was born on April 9, 1916 in Kelly, Idaho. Her parents, Alice Elnora Tolman and Hans Peter Anderson, were dedicated leaders in their community and equally dedicated leaders in their church. They were also loving parents to a large family. Mrs. Oleson was the last living of 11 children in her family.
Mrs. Oleson had many memories of living off the land in the ‘20s and ‘30s because her father was a rancher in Idaho and Wyoming. They had homegrown fruits and vegetables, meat, eggs, milk and homemade bread. Her family cared for cows, chickens and even horses that served her family’s way of getting around. Until the 1920s, her family got around by horse-drawn buggy in the summer and bobsled in the winter.
As she started her school career, Mrs. Oleson attended an elementary school that had two classrooms with four grades to each room. She loved to learn and was promoted from third to fifth grade. She graduated from Star Valley Wyoming High School in May of 1933.
She met her first husband in 1935 while visiting a cousin in Newdale, Idaho. The two were attending a dance and got each other as partners in a mixer. They became good friends after that first meeting and went on a few dates before Mr. Schwendiman left to attend the University of Idaho at Moscow and Mrs. Oleson returned to her home in Wyoming. They corresponded and dated long distance for the next couple of years. Once he graduated in June of 1937, the two were married in September that year in the Salt Lake City Temple of The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints.
The couple boarded a train the next day for Madison, Wisconsin where he had a scholarship to study for a PhD in Agronomy. Mr. Schwendiman graduated with honors and received a PhD from the University of Wisconsin in June 1940. After graduating, he accepted a position as instructor at the University of Wisconsin. Two daughters were born while the couple lived in Wisconsin; Carol born July 1, 1942 and Lorraine born August 13, 1944.
A short time after her second daughter was born Mrs. Oleson’s husband began feeling ill, so the family decided to relocate back to the West. They moved to Montana for a short time and then to Salt Lake City where they would be close to family and and proper medical help. Mr. Schwendiman was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and died December 5, 1946 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
After his death, Mrs. Oleson moved to Logan, Utah where she attended Utah State University. She received a bachelor’s degree while majoring in elementary education. She worked hard and continued to provide for her two daughters as a single mother, graduating in June 1951. She remained in Logan and taught elementary school until 1958.
In April 1958, she married Roy Oleson and the family moved to Sacramento. There, he worked for Aerojet Corp and Mrs. Oleson continued to teach school. In 1966, the family moved to Claremont. Mr. Oleson worked for Aerojet Corp in Azusa and Mrs. Oleson started teaching for the Glendora Unified School District. Mr. Oleson died of heart failure April 20,1981.
After her second husband’s death, Mrs. Oleson remained in Claremont and taught in Glendora until she retired in 1986. She loved every second of her 35 years of teaching and influenced many young lives over the years. She taught all levels of elementary education but her favorite remained her third grade students. She was loved and respected as a teacher by students, colleagues and administrators.
Mrs. Oleson was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and held various positions in the church over the years. She was also a member of the American Association of University Women, Musicians Club of Pomona Valley, Pomona Travelers Club, and The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. She thoroughly enjoyed her association with all of these organizations.
During her lifetime Mrs. Oleson never thought she would travel as much as she did, the family expressed. Her passport included stamps from the Orient, Taiwan, Egypt, Israel and various countries in Europe. Her favorite country to visit in Europe was Switzerland. She had her 83rd birthday while on her trip to Israel. Everyone on the tour was amazed at how young she looked and how much energy she had for her age.
At age 85, Mrs. Oleson was diagnosed with macular degeneration and over a period of a couple of years became legally blind. Though it took away much of the independence that she loved, it did not dissuade her from enjoying life. After going through many hard knocks in life, she developed the belief that if hard times come your way you must do your best to fix the problem; if you can’t fix the problem you make the best of it and move on. In the last few years of her life, she had an amazing ability to weather challenges and endure to the end.
In her free time she loved to read and listen to music. After retirement, she began taking piano lessons to improve her piano skill and her family noted that she was very proud of her level of expertise in her older age. Despite her vision loss, she continued to learn and enjoy good books by listening to audio books. She loved to share the stories from her books with family and friends.
Her greatest joy in life was spending time with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was very proud of all of their accomplishments. Her love and kindness to her family are remembered fondly and she was a great example to all with her posterity about how to live life. Her efforts to stay mentally sharp paid off and her mind remained strong up to the time of her death.
She is survived by her two daughters and their husbands; Carol and Max Chancellor of Salem, Oregon and Lorraine and Ronald Pierce of Claremont. Also, by 11 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren.