- The Washington Times - Friday, December 30, 2005

Dorothea Olsen, 83, dog handler, Navy wife

Dorothea McAnulty Olsen, a former dog show handler and accomplished equestrienne who lived in Northern Virginia for 43 years, died Dec. 23 of a stroke at Virginia Medical Center in Arlington. She was 83.

Mrs. Olsen, who was born in Atlantic City, N.J., won the Children’s Handler Grand Challenge Trophy at the Westminster Dog Show in 1936 and rode horses competitively under the tutelage of her father, who was a veterinarian.

In 1942, Mrs. Olsen graduated from the New Jersey College of Commerce and worked until her marriage in 1948 to her high school classmate, Alfred R. Olsen Jr.

Mrs. Olsen and her family moved around the country while her husband was in the Navy. She was the consummate Navy wife, empathetic to other Navy wives who endured long separations while their husbands were at sea.

“In those days, an officer’s annual review included assessment of his wife’s performance as a hostess and helpmate. She earned four stars just by being herself,” said Mrs. Olsen’s oldest daughter, Frances Olsen.

“Our home was always open to friends whom Mom treated as if they were her own children and for whom she became an endearing role model.”

Mrs. Olsen worked for H&R Block for 13 years and later with AARP preparing taxes for the elderly. She was an active member of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Arlington, a Parish Council member for six years and a lay eucharist minister visiting hospitalized parishioners.

She enjoyed gardening, travel and photography in her senior years.

Survivors include her husband of 57 years; three daughters, Frances Olsen of Arlington, Elizabeth Tracewell of Lawrenceville, Ga., and Dorothea Olsen-DeHon of West Palm Beach, Fla.; three sons, retired Navy Capt. Alfred Olsen and John Olsen, both of Springfield, and Navy Cmdr. Charles Olsen of Winter Park, Fla.; and nine grandchildren.

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