Author with Wrangell connection to visit on book tour

Blood may be thicker than water, but water has its own unique bond.

Dave Olson has written a quasi-memoir, "Bonded By Water," about his family's multi-generational bond to Southeast.

The Olson family relocated to Ketchikan when Dave was a teenager – he remembers coming to Wrangell in the pep band when Ketchikan High School played the Wrangell Institute basketball team – and the family retained a strong connection with Southeast.

Dave is the brother of the Rev. Ken Olson, the former pastor of the Island of Faith Lutheran Church. Rev. Olson was famous for his boat-based circuit ministry as the captain of the M/V Christian until he died after a fatal fall through ice at Meyers Chuck. The Christian, with Rev. Olson at its helm, would make rounds to remote communities preaching the gospel and sometimes providing ad-hoc medical transportation or other services.

"They would make these rounds because of my brother's attitude and approach to 'what is faith all about?'" Dave Olson said. "They weren't interested in anything specific. They were interested in serving people and they did a great job of it."

"They had services they would perform that were ordinarily not a part of what a minister and his wife would perform," he added.

The ministry continued for many years after Ken Olson's death in 1996 and constitutes part of the family legacy, Dave Olson said.

"The people in Wrangell knew my brother and his wife Nancy – Nancy actually did a little teaching down at Wrangell schools – from 1988 until his death in 1996 in Meyers Chuck," he said.

The last third of the book focuses on Ken Olson's ministry and Wrangell plays a big part, Dave Olson said. The first two parts of the book are a combination of family history and memoir inspired by the Olson family's unusual life.

"The rest of the book covers a lot more ground," he said. "In fact, it covers like a hundred years of history and three generations of family history."

He used family history to broaden his autobiography.

"I have friends who said I'd lived kind of an adventurous life. They thought I should write it all up," he said. "It's a popular thing among seniors to write up their autobiography. I started that, but I got tired of it in a hurry. Then I started thinking about my dad and his history and Southeast Alaska and Ketchikan. He was tangled up in territorial politics. He felt he lived a book-worthy life, and he did. My brother and the life that he lived was equally book-worthy. These people just lived going down roads less traveled by most people. I had these stories, and I was sort of the common thread, and if I didn't tell them, who would?"

Dave Olson's Wrangell connection isn't just limited to high school sports.

"I was there a number of times," he said.

He assisted with maintenance of Ken Olson's non-ministry 37-foot fishing boat, the Avina.

"It was my job to get the Avina back up to stuff, like painting her bottom on the grid in Shoemaker Harbor, and I even lived out of Shoemaker Harbor in the boat," he said.

The book was released July 1 on The hardcover version is replete with a water-color illustration of the M/V Christian by Wrangell artist Brenda Schwartz-Yeager. Dave Olson is also preparing an e-book version for publication. He intends to use some of the proceeds for his book for educational causes, he said.

"Our goal, our dream, is that once we get past the upfront expenses that have been involved in getting this book put together, our goal is to take the rest of it and do something good with it," he said. "We're looking at educational non-profits. It's serious marketing to, in our minds, be part of a couple educational things we're looking at."

Dave Olson and his wife plan to deliver a speech promoting their book 7 p.m. July 8 at Island of Faith Lutheran church.


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