Jeanne Ward Olsen passed away peacefully at her Palisades home of 50 years on July 18. Jeanne was a study in grace, perseverance and charm, and was fiercely loyal to family and friends.
Jeanne’s life began in Chicago in 1927. She was the fifth of seven children born to James and Lillian Ward. When she was 5, the family moved to Washington, D.C. Jeanne was graduated from Georgetown Visitation High School at age 16 and from Georgian Court College in New Jersey with a bachelor’s degree in dietetics.
In 1953, she met Chuck Olsen, an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. Their first date was a NY Yankees/Washington Senator’s baseball game. In 1954, they married in Manhattan with a reception at the Plaza Hotel.
They settled in Annapolis and their first child, Michele, was born a year later. Mari followed soon after, trailed by son Chet. While expecting their fourth child, Kim, Chuck accepted a position with Robert Maheu and Howard Hughes in California. Jeanne often said she “landed in Los Angeles on the bandwagon.”
Fully embracing everything California had to offer, Jeanne skied, played tennis and hosted bridge games at the beach—all while looking fabulous. She created lifelong friendships through Corpus Christi and the Jonathan Club. She co-founded a group of nine gals who met for cocktails the first Monday of each month. They called themselves “The Sodality.” This tradition continued over 40 years.
Jeanne gave her time to Corpus Christi as well as Marymount and Loyola high schools. She was a member of the Westside Guild of Children’s Hospital and volunteered at the LA County Museum of Art.
Chuck and Jeanne made travel a priority for their family. Jeanne was an avid reader and stayed abreast of current events. Her remarkable memory allowed her to recount decade-old conversations—she loved to laugh and reminisce.
Jeanne took entertaining seriously and threw outstanding parties. She was fun- loving and strived to create incredible memories. Jeanne will be fondly remembered for her sophistication, quick-wittedness and sense of style.
Jeanne is survived by Michele Olsen (Steve Jefferies), Mari Woodward (Andrew), Kim Plunkett (Colm) and Chet (Raena). She shared her unique and gracious self with her grandchildren—and got such a kick out of each one of them! Collin, Evan, Henry, Eben, Michele, Cate, Clare, Charlie and Pari: great-grandchildren, Sean and Millie.
We will always remember Jeanne’s effervescent personality.
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