A Loving Tribute

Martin G. Olsen

July 10, 1942 – May 16, 2024
Submitted by Amy Bratteli


Martin George Olsen passed away unexpectedly after a short illness, at the age of 81, at HopeWest Care Center with his youngest daughter and son-in-law by his side. He died a year and two days after his wife, Sally Sparn Olsen.

He was born on July 10, 1942, to George Martin Olsen and Eleanor Renar Olsen in Brooklyn, NY. He lived there until age 7. The family moved to Long Island after that. His younger sister, Carole Olsen, was born in 1944. He graduated from Calhoun High School in 1960. Shortly thereafter, he went to Colorado School of Mines, graduating in 1965 with a degree in mining engineering. Throughout college he was part of ROTC. He met Sally Nadine Sparn while in Colorado and they were married June 7, 1965.

Because Marty was in the Army, achieving the rank of Captain, they moved several times early in their marriage. They were stationed in Ft. Belvoir, VA where they had their first daughter, Holly, in 1965. The three moved to Verdun, France, and Pirmasans, Germany before Marty was deployed to Vietnam in February 1968. While Marty was in Vietnam, Sally moved back to Grand Junction, Colorado, and had their second daughter, Kari, in May. Marty did not meet her until she was several months old. When Marty returned the family moved to Ft. Belvoir until he was transferred to Ft. Carson, Colorado in 1970. There, Amy, their third daughter, was born. The growing family then moved to Lawrence, Kansas while Marty obtained his Master’s Degree in Engineering. In 1972, they moved to Minot, ND when Marty was assigned as the project engineer for a flood control project while part of the Army Corp of Engineers.

They moved to Bismarck, ND when Marty was honorably discharged from the Army in 1977. He worked for North American Coal for many years as a mining engineer. Then moved to the North Dakota Highway Department working as a civil engineer until his retirement at the age of 60.
After raising their three daughters and getting them all through college, they sold the Bismarck family home, bought a 5th wheel RV, and hit the road for 7 years. They traveled around the country visiting their three daughters, and 6 grandchildren in North Dakota, Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

In 2007, they settled again in Grand Junction working at Junction West RV Park from 2007-2010. They then purchased a home in Midlands Village in Clifton, CO. Marty started working for Hertz as a driver for several years. In 2020, during the fires closing the interstate, he followed GPS into an undriveable pass and was lost for 2 days. Thanks to a united Facebook effort, he was found safe by two men from Houston, TX who were also lost.

In February of 2023, Marty and Sally moved into the Commons at Hilltop as Sally was dealing with worsening dementia. They lived there happily as can be until Sally passed away of complications related to COVID on May 14, 2023. Marty continued to live at the Commons and had a good group of friends who made sure he was not lonely (thank you Don and Bob).

Martin was a spiritual man who was part of many churches, including United Methodist and American Lutheran in Grand Junction. He was a member of Schumann Singers until their disbandment, then joined the Western Colorado Chorale. He loved to sing and listen to choral music. He was an avid reader, especially science fiction and fantasy. In his later years, he was a fan of Hallmark movies (“because they are predictable and have happy endings”) and the Weather Channel. He was most proud of his daughters and their families. He talked about them often.

He was preceded in death by his wife of almost 58 years, Sally Sparn Olsen, both his parents, his sister, and his niece, Melinda. He is survived by his daughters, Holly Jundt (Mark) of Bismarck, ND, Kari Gillen (Doug) of Allen TX, and Amy Bratteli (John) of Fruita, CO; his 6 grandchildren, Heidi Grenz (Matt) of Mandan, ND, Brandon Jundt of Bismarck, ND, Kate Gillen of Waco, TX, Jennifer Stang (Tyler) in McKinney, TX, Sarah Bratteli, and Aaron Bratteli, both of Fruita, CO; and his great-grandchildren, Noah, Asher, and Elijah Grenz of Mandan, ND.

A celebration of life will be held on May 30 at 10:00 am at Brown’s Funeral Services Chapel (livestreamed). This will be followed by military honors at the Veterans Cemetery at 1:00 pm.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to HopeWest (https://www.hopewestco.org/donate/) or Western Colorado Chorale (https://westerncoloradochorale.org/supportwcc/).

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