Ilene Olsby

June 6, 1909 – September 29, 2014

unnamedYes, you are looking at a picture of Ilene at 105! Beautiful, vivacious, energetic, artistic, faithful and generous are some of the adjectives that describe this four-foot, ten inch powerhouse.  Her colorful life was fodder for storytelling, and people hung on her words when she talked about being a drummer in an all-girl band, going on her sister’s honeymoon, keeping her own marriage a secret so that she could keep her job during the Depression, being a touch-up artist in a photo studio, a crackerjack millinery salesperson, and a business owner, which are just a few of the many stories in her repertoire. But her favorite experience to recount was the day she accepted the Lord Jesus as her Savior, which in a miraculous moment released her from addiction to alcohol, and restored dignity to her life, dignity that she lived out in her relationships, her motivations, her work, her artistic pursuits and her generosity to people in need, dignity that endured to the end of her days.  Ilene is now reunited with her husband, Cliff, and son, Ron, who preceded her in death. Waiting to catch up with them are her son, George, married to Karen, her daughter, Gayolin Bailey, married to Bruce, Three granddaughters, Hilary Burnett, Camille Nasin and Sonya Grace, their spouses, plus great and great-great grandchildren.

Thanks to those who helped take care of Ilene: Dr. Ted Kapanjie, Steve, Kate, Rosie and the rest of the team from Providence Hospice of Seattle, Amina and Rahab from Family Resource Home Care, Lake City Fred Meyer Pharmacy, and family friends, Shelly and Nancy. Thanks also to John Kenner and Don Driftmeyer, two angels who hide their wings.

7 Responses to “Ilene Olsby”

  • Gert Funderburke says:

    I remember Ilene from Northgate chapel Bible study. I loved seeing her drive up in her baby blue mustang. I remember the day she said she was giving up driving but mostly I remember her passion and love for the Lord. What a great picture of her at 105.

  • gayolin bailey says:


    My Mama died today.
    When none of us was lookin’
    She quietly snuck away.
    But I don’t blame her.
    At 105, she’d got awful tired.

    Tired of that wobbly hip
    Rockin’ loose in its socket
    And poppin’ out without warning,

    Tired of lookin’ at the ceiling from the floor
    And waitin’ for those medic aids
    To find her shivery naked,
    Lyin’ by the shower,

    Tired of globs of Polly Grip
    That made her dentures only almost fit.
    Tired of their chewless clicky clack
    And swipin’ her plate clean with a napkin
    Sendin’ her dinner down the drain,
    But then, nothin’ tasted very good to her anyways.

    She was tired of that slidey wig.
    No matter how many pins
    She stuck in her spider silk hair to hold it,
    It slipped every which way on her forehead.

    Ma was tired of sayin’ she didn’t hear what you said
    And then pretendin’ she did when you said it again.
    She was tired of always havin’ to get a ride.
    And yet tired of bein’ glad to stay at home and hide.

    She was tired of blinkin’ at the blur in her eyes,
    And tired of takin’ pills for pain,
    And rubbin’ her tingly fingers and arms
    To get ‘em warm.

    She was tired of wonderin’ what her reason was,
    Tired of a solitary bed,
    Tired of being tired,
    But last of all, she was tired of keepin’ secrets
    And tired of her regrets.

    That’s when she got real quiet,
    Except for every once in a while
    When we’d hear her say:
    I’ve been unkind.
    I wasn’t true.
    I want to pray.

    But there was matter-of-factness in her tone
    Like she was comin’ to terms with bein’ forgiven
    And lettin’ go of rememberin’ things that
    Jesus forgot a long, long time ago.

    Then, when there was no more words at all,
    Just a gurgle in her throat,
    I put my face right close to hers
    And matched us up eye to eye and said:
    I’ve had a happy birthday, Ma.
    Now go, and be with Jesus and Daddy and Ron.

    But I was cold, so after sayin’ I’d come right back,
    I hurried down the hall to put on my robe,
    And wouldn’t ya know, in the one tiny minute
    While I was gone, that little artery throb
    At the side of her neck went still as a stone.

    I focused in on her real hard
    To see if it would start back up again,
    And waited for her to twitch, or blink, or cough,
    Because, in spite of how far gone she was,
    It didn’t seem right or real that after
    Livin’ that strong and stayin’ in so long,
    She could actually be gone from this world.

    So the words sound mighty strange,
    Like somebody else is doin’ the talkin’
    When I hear myself say:

    Just thought you’d wanta’ know
    My Mama died today.

    When none of us was lookin’
    She quietly snuck away.

    Gayolin Bailey © September 2014

  • gayolin bailey says:

    Hi, mom. Just wanted to tell you that Courtney got married yesterday. You would be thrilled with the man who loves her. I had hoped to give her your diamond, but as you know, it was stolen along with all my other valuables.

    2014 was quite the year for me. My privacy invaded, my treasures, such as they were, taken, Ron’s suicide, your death on my birthday. And life hasn’t really let up since then, either.

    We had to sell our waterfront condo and move to a retirement facility because Bruce has onset dementia.The losses from that are complicated, ongoing and will continue to increase as days go by.

    Pray for me. I miss you, Ma, a lot. xo

  • gayolin bailey says:

    “Ive got to tell mom I drove down 35th today.” That’s what I said to myself, forgetting for a moment that you’ve been gone for two years.

    But can you see it from where you are? The sun filtering through leaves turning in their time; incandescent green, yellow, orange,red and burgundy arching over your street?

    Isn’t it magical?

    Love you always, Miss you always.


  • gayolin bailey says:

    Hi, Mom. Well, it’s just a few days past three years since you’ve been gone. How are things where you are? Have you seen our babies? I talk about you to the people around here. I’m glad now that I didn’t talk you into moving to a retirement home. For all that it offers, it isn’t home. Not for me. At least not yet. It wouldn’t have been for you either. So you know what, we “spoiled you rotten.” Ha! Lucky you! Both HIlary and Camille will have to work well into their sixties or even seventies, so they’ll never be able to pop over on a moment’s notice to attend to me. But then I’m not likely to live as long as you, so I’ll be okay. Don’t worry about me! Ha! again. xo Gay

  • gayolin bailey says:

    Hi, Mom. It has been four years today that you have been gone. I miss you. I think of you and speak of you often. There is much I wish I could talk to you about, mainly Bruce’s dementia. It isn’t sweet like Dad’s was. I believe your experience must have been one in a million. But, perhaps you already see what’s going on from where you are. And if you do, I know you are praying for me. So, just in case, thank you! See you soon-ish. xo Gay

  • Bob Olsby says:

    Today as I work on our Family Tree I came across the this web site. I did not know of Bruce’s passing and I am so sorry.
    I have read Gayolin’s comments and stories, l am so moved and understand the trial and tribulations that you have been through. My love to you and your family.
    Bob Olsby

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