Matthew Scott Olson

Durango resident Matthew Scott Olson died suddenly Tuesday, March 13, 2012, at his sister’s home in Durango. He was 48. The cause of death is undetermined at this time.

Mr. Olson was born to Wallace and Elizabeth Olson on Feb. 5, 1964, in Fargo, N.D. He grew up on the family farm in Halstad, Minn., and moved with his family to Sturgis, S.D., when he was 13.

Mr. Olson competed in horse shows in Minnesota, South Dakota and eastern Montana, starting at the age of 9 and continuing until he was 19. His family said he won a “garageful” of trophies for riding and went as far as the state championships in Minnesota and the national championships in Oklahoma. His favorite horse, Shi Roh Sue, was named one of the Outstanding Horses of the World in 1983.

Mr. Olson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theater from Southern Oregon State College, now Southern Oregon University, in Ashland. He was active in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Actors Workshop and The Pink Church Cabaret in Ashland.

He moved to Seattle to pursue an acting career. He was involved in several theater groups there, including the Aha! Theatre and Seattle Repertory Theatre. In addition to acting, he spent five years bartending at the Seattle Space Needle.

In 2000, he moved to Honolulu and spent the next 12 years in the restaurant industry, moving into training and supervising.

He continued to support the arts and was an advocate for gay rights.

Mr. Olson had just moved to Durango two months ago to be with his sister and her family and to start a new chapter of his life when he died.

“He had a wonderful sense of humor, wit and style, an exceptional kind and loving spirit, and made lifelong friends wherever he went,” his family said.

Mr. Olson is survived by his parents, Wallace and Elizabeth Olson, of Sturgis; sister, Dana Wilson, of Durango; brother, Terry Olson, of Ranchester, Wyo.; and three nephews.

A family service and celebration of life is planned for Saturday, May 19, 2012, at Grace Lutheran Church in Sturgis. Burial will be at the family plot at Augustana Church near Halstad at a later date.

Friends in Seattle are establishing a foundation and a clinic to provide medical care for uninsured artists in the Seattle community. The clinic will be named The Matthew Scott Olson Memorial Clinic. For more information, visit the website at The foundation’s 501(c)3 application is pending with the Internal Revenue Service. Contributions may be sent to AAIPC, c/o Bryan Cooper, ARNP, NP-C, 1816 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Seattle, WA 98122.