Eleanor Louise Vinez Olsen

Areas of Achievement: 
Home Making

Honored By

Honored by: Olsen, John
Date submitted: February 22, 2012
Gift: General Gift

Eleanor Louise Vinez Olsen (1917-2016) was born in Akron, Ohio, daughter of a prominent American restaurateur, Charles Edgar Vinez (1877-1926), and a German immigrant, Amelia Elizabeth Wiebelt (1880-1975). She received her high school diploma from St. Vincent School in Akron and subsequently attended Hamill Business School and Akron University until the beginning of the Second World War when she joined the war effort as a secretary for a local company that manufactured parts for tanks.

She was married in 1942 to Stanley John Olsen (1919-2003). Stanley joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 and Eleanor became a Navy wife, traveling and working in a number of cities in the U.S. Stan was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1945 and took a job as a fossil preparator in the Paleontology Laboratory of Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology (now part of the Harvard Museum of Natural History). After a number of years assisting Stan in supervising the MCZ's fossil-collecting expeditions in Texas, Florida, and Nova Scotia, Eleanor moved to Tallahassee, Florida in 1955 with their new son, John W. Olsen (now Regents' Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arizona), where Stan assumed the position of State Vertebrate Paleontologist in the Florida Geological Survey and, later, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Florida State University.

The Olsens moved to Tucson in 1973 where Stan had accepted concurrent positions as Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arizona and Curator of Zooarchaeology in the Arizona State Museum, where he remained on staff until his retirement in 1998. During the 1970s through mid-1990s, Eleanor and Stan traveled extensively to many parts of the world as Stan pursued his research and writing. They were among the first cohort of modern foreign visitors to Tibet in the early 1980s and visited China many times beginning in 1976. Eleanor recalls, 'It was a wonderful time for me to visit museums and learn more about my own special interests in flower arranging and cooking.'