Gillis G. “Gil” Olsen, age 95, of Plantation, Florida, passed away peacefully in his sleep July 16, 2016.
Gil was born May 19, 1921, in Mount Vernon, New York. When he was 12, he and his family moved to the small town of Marlinton, where he lived until he went to college at age 17. He always considered Marlinton his hometown. He attended, and graduated from, Marshall College in Huntington, where he was the sports editor of the student newspaper and a star tennis player.
After graduating from college, and while World War II was in full swing, Gil joined the United States Army. While stationed in St. Petersburg, Florida, Gil met his wife-to-be, Beulah Brill. They married in April, 1944. In November, 1944, with Beulah pregnant, Gil was shipped out to Europe, landing at Marseille, France. He was a lieutenant in General Patton’s Third Army, serving in Company L (Love Company), Third Battalion of the 328th Infantry Regiment of the 26th Infantry Division (Yankee Division).
On December 16, 1944, the Battle of the Bulge began. Patton’s Third Army was rapidly deployed north to Luxembourg and Belgium to assist in the Battle. Gil spent the last part of December, 1944, and most of January, 1945, in combat in sub-zero temperatures. He served as a platoon leader on the front line. He was 23 years old. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. At the end of the Battle, Gil’s legs were frozen. He was transported to England, where he spent three months for treatment and recuperation. Gil returned to the European mainland to rejoin his company and, while en route, Germany surrendered. Gil became company commander of Love Company and, while serving with the occupation forces, his company was preparing for the invasion of Japan. In June, 1945, while in Czechoslovakia, Gil was informed by telegraph that his first child, daughter Enid, had been born. The war in the Pacific ended in August and Gil returned to the United States in December, 1945. His daughter was six months old when he first saw her.
Gil had sworn to himself that, if he lived through the war, he would never allow himself to be cold again. So, after a few months living in Huntington, Gil moved with his wife and baby daughter to St. Petersburg, Florida, where his three sons were born and, where he and Beulah raised their family.
Gil was a life-long athlete and a fan of all sports. He particularly loved playing tennis and was a member of, and President of, the St. Petersburg Tennis Center at Bartlett Park. As a tennis instructor, teaching private lessons and continuing education classes at St. Petersburg Junior College, Gil taught a couple of thousand students how to play the game.
Gil’s wife passed away in 1997, after 53 years of marriage. In 2003, Gil moved to Broward County, Florida where his three sons reside.
He is survived by his daughter, Enid Angello, and husband, Jay; sons, Greg Olsen, and wife, Salle, Mark Olsen, and wife, Charlene, and Gary Olsen; five grandsons; three great-grandchildren; and one great-great- grandchild.
He was a good man and he will be missed by his family and friends.
Online condolences may be made at www.fredhunters.com