Cover photo for Dr. Mitchell "Mitch" Martin Olson's Obituary
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1960 Dr. Mitchell "Mitch" 2022

Dr. Mitchell "Mitch" Martin Olson

August 7, 1960 — October 9, 2022

Dr. Mitchell “Mitch” Martin Olson, 62, Rockford, passed away suddenly from natural causes on Sunday, October 9, 2022. He was born August 7, 1960, in Rockford, the son of Roger and Jeanne (Floody) Olson.

Mitch received his undergraduate degree from Wheaton College with a double major in Organ and Christian Education. He served in several Rockford area churches, including Director of Music and Youth at Alpine Lutheran Church, Director of Music and Youth and subsequently Director of Music and Adult Ministries at Christ United Methodist Church, and Director of Music at Cross & Crown Lutheran Church in Roscoe. Mitch was currently the Director of Music and organist at Holy Family Catholic Church. While at Christ Methodist, he worked with Pastor Bob Atkins on Suncamp youth camps together with Pilgrim Baptist Church in southwest Rockford. These interracial camps fostered many long-lasting relationships. Toward the end of his tenure at Cross & Crown, he led a group of choir members to sing in an international choir at Carnegie Hall in New York City under the direction of famed composer Mark Hayes. At Holy Family, Mitch greatly enjoyed playing the magnificent Buzard Opus 25 organ and working with the Church’s choirs and cantors.

Mitch earned his Master in Adult Education from National Louis University and his Education Doctorate (EdD) from Fielding Graduate University. For his doctoral dissertation, he researched Adult Basic Education students working to attain their GED and developed interventions for adult students. His study was entitled “Driven Succeeding: A Grounded Action Study in Adult Education.” He was employed by Walden University as an administrator and dissertation chair, and Grand Canyon University as a methodologist chair. He helped many students navigate the complex and often frustrating process of completing their dissertations and achieving their doctoral degrees. He knew exactly how to move someone forward when they were stuck and gained the trust and affection of his many students.

He was a member of the American Guild of Organists Rockford chapter He played trombone and baritone in the Kishwaukee Community Concert Band and Rockford Wind Ensemble. He served on the Rockford Wind Ensemble board and the board of directors for Ken-Rock Community Center, for which he also coached softball teams.

Mitch loved the Lord, the church, his family, the Chicago Cubs, coffee, the movie Groundhog Day staring Bill Murray, jazz music, camping, cruises, recreational piloting, and had an unlimited arsenal of dad jokes and bad puns. He was an exceptional cook and hosted memorable Thanksgiving feasts for the family every year. He was a friend to many and had a heart for people with special needs. He got his church choirs to sing beyond their ability and always reminded them that we sing for God because God is worth it.

Mitch was adopted by his loving parents, Roger and Jeanne, when he was six weeks old. In later years he was able to connect with his biological family. He learned from taking an Ancestry.com DNA test that he had a half-sister, Sally O’Leary, and a half-brother, Sean Gardner. Through them he was able to meet his birth mother, Judith (Willstead) Gardner. It brought him full circle and gave him great joy to have met Judith and gotten to know her as well as to develop a friendship with Sean and Sally.

Survived by his loving wife of almost 40 years, Sharon; his children, Krista (Brad) Chamberlain and their children, Lucas Mitchell and Addison Jeanne, all of Belleville, MI, Kara (Tanous) El-Kareh of Geneva, Tray and TJ Olson, both of Rockford; his brothers, Steve (Kathy) Olson of Rockford and Sean Gardner of Murphysboro IL, and his sister Sally (Mike) O’Leary, also of Murphysboro. Predeceased by his parents.

A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, at Cross & Crown Lutheran Church, 7404 Elevator Rd., Roscoe, IL with Reverend Megan Vaughan officiating. A Memorial visitation will be held from 5:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M. on Monday, October 17, 2022, at Fitzgerald Funeral Home and Crematory, Mulford Chapel, 1860 S. Mulford Rd. Rockford and again from 10:00 A.M. until 10:45 A.M. on Tuesday at the church. Cremation rites have been accorded. Share online condolences at www.fitzgeraldfh.com.


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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

10:00 - 10:45 am (Eastern time)

Cross and Crown Lutheran Church

7404 Elevator Road, Roscoe, IL 61073

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Memorial Service

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Cross and Crown Lutheran Church

7404 Elevator Road, Roscoe, IL 61073

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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