Sally Nadine (Sparn) Olsen passed away on Mother’s Day, May 14, 2023 at the age of 81, after a short, unexpected illness due to complications of COVID. She was surrounded by her family in person and virtually at the time of her death.
Sally was born on March 12, 1942 in Denver, Colorado to Donald and Mickey (Eaton) Sparn. She lived in Denver until she was 8 years old when she moved to Grand Junction where her brother Stephen was born. She attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School until the 8th grade, then went to Grand Junction Junior High School and Grand Junction High School. When she graduated in 1960, she said “I’ll always be a Tiger!”
She attended the University of Colorado and graduated with a degree in nursing in 1964. She was a charter member of the Kappa Upsilon Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society. After graduation, she worked at General Rose Memorial Hospital in Denver until she married Martin Olsen on June 7, 1965. Because Marty was in the Army, 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 of them then moved to Verdun, France and Pirmesans, Germany before Marty was deployed to Viet Nam in February 1968. While Marty was in Viet Nam, Sally moved back to Grand Junction, Colorado, and had their second daughter, Kari, in May. When Marty returned the family moved to Ft. Belvoir where they lived 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. Sally worked as a nurse for 4 years on the surgical floor at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Minot. They moved to Bismarck, ND when Marty was honorably discharged from the Army.
In 1977, Sally began teaching at Mary College (now University of Mary) in Bismarck, ND. She completed her Masters Degree in Nursing from the University of Mary in 1987. She taught for 25 years before retiring in May of 2002, at the age of 60. While there, Sally was involved in leadership of the freshman orientation seminar known as LPA (Lifejackets, Parachutes, and Armor) for 23 years. She had been active in the North Dakota Nurses Association (NDNA) for over 25 years and served as president from 1997-2000. She was chosen as Nurse of the Year in 1984 and as the Outstanding Nurse of the Year in 2000. She was selected as the NDNA Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse of the Year in 1995.
While in Bismarck, she was a member of the Mental Health Association for several years and was a group facilitator for the REACH Support Group for Families of the Mentally Ill for 6 years. During that time, she was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Mental Health Association. She was also a group leader for the Rape Crisis Center and served on the board for HIT, Inc in Mandan, ND.
Upon retirement, she and Marty sold their house becoming full time RVers, traveling the country in a 5th wheel, and visiting their 3 daughters and 6 grandchildren in North Dakota, Texas, and Colorado. They eventually settled down in Grand Junction and lived and worked at Junction West RV Park from 2007-2010, then they purchased a home in Midlands Village in Clifton, CO. Sally was very active at First United Methodist Church and was an integral part of a study of mental health needs in the community. She also served as Council President at American Lutheran Church. She was also active with NAMI Colorado fielding teams for the annual NAMI Walk for several years.
In February 2023, Sally and Marty moved to The Commons of Hilltop and settled in as Sally was dealing with progressive dementia. She made many friends and was very happy there until her death.
She is survived by her husband, Marty, of almost 58 years; her daughters, Holly Jundt (Mark) of Bismarck, ND, Kari Gillen (Doug) of McKinney, TX, and Amy Bratteli (John) of Fruita, CO; her 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 her great grandchildren, Noah, Asher, and Elijah Grenz of Mandan, ND. She is also survived by her brother, Stephen Sparn (Linda) of Boulder, CO and her nephew Andrew Sparn (Bethany) in Boulder, CO. Sally is also survived by a lifetime of friends from all the places she has lived and the lives she’s touched.
A celebration of life will be held June 2 at 2 pm at Brown’s Cremation & Funeral Services in Grand Junction, CO. In lieu of flowers, please donate in Sally’s memory to NAMI Colorado Western Slope at https://namicolorado.org/support-groups/nami-western-slope/.
Service will be live streamed at https://event.forgetmenotceremonies.com/ceremony?c=d9399042-36f4-4d07-9e3a-afe7136fcc26