Marilyn Joy Olsen

July 12, 1932 ~ November 23, 2020 (age 88)


Marilyn Joy (Gatehouse) Olsen, of Auburn, Alabama, passed away peacefully, with family by her side, at East Alabama Medical Center on November 23, 2020 following a brief illness. She was born on July 12, 1932 in Brooklyn, New York. She received a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York and taught for 19 years in Hillsdale, New Jersey before retiring in 1987. She began married life in New York but moved to Alabama when her husband was in the service, and subsequentially relocated to New York, California and finally New Jersey, until 2016 when she moved to Alabama to be by family.

Surviving are her husband of 67 years, Warren, her two children Jill (Steve) Passaretti of Opelika AL and Oakwood OH and Paul (Cass) Olsen of Hanover NH and Opelika AL, four grandchildren: Michael (Emily) Passaretti, Amy Passaretti, Meredith (Bryce) Petty and Christian Olsen; as well as 3 great grandchildren: Lydia and Theodore Passaretti and Quinn Petty.  She is also survived by her sister Carol Sutton, and numerous nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her parents, Gilbert and Ethel (Cole) Gatehouse.  

Marilyn believed in second chances and was a strong advocate for giving back to others. She was a dedicated volunteer her entire life and joined the General Federation of Woman’s Clubs (GFWC) in 1961 as a member of the Woodland Hills Junior Women's Club in California.  When she and her family moved to New Jersey in 1963, she joined the Westwood Junior Women's Club. Marilyn became a member of the GFWC Vernon Township Woman's Club in 1989 and held a number of leadership positions, including club president. She was known to bring llamas and baby pigs to nursing homes to interact with the patients.

Marilyn and her husband delivered Meals on Wheels faithfully for 20 years. In 2009, they were nominated by the Sussex County Meals on Wheels chapter for the Meals on Wheels Association of America’s annual American Volunteer Contest.  She was one of the founding organizers of Harvest House Community Lunch Program in Sussex New Jersey in 1997 and was a Board of Directors Member for 10 years.  Marilyn was a Girl Scout Leader in Hillsdale, New Jersey for the same group of girls from Brownies through Seniors.  She was a member of the Vernon Juvenile Conference Committee, meeting monthly to hear and decide matters involving juvenile delinquency. 

Marilyn and her husband were awarded Vernon Township Senior Citizens of the Year in 2003. 

Marilyn will forever be remembered for the strength of her marriage, her love of family, a desire to help others, her knitting and her smile.

Funeral services are private. Contributions may be made in Marilyn’s memory to the GFWC Vernon Township Woman’s Club, PO Box 175 Vernon, NJ 07462 or to your local food pantry.

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