Wanda Margaret Olles passed away peacefully on Nov. 3, 2020 just 16 days shy of her 90th birthday. Wanda was born in Modoc, Illinois to Albert and Mayme Mulholland who had immigrated to the United States from Ireland. She grew up on an 80-acre farm, the middle child of 13 children. Her education through 8th grade was in a one-room school where the teacher taught every subject. She graduated from Red Bud High School in 1948 and she was fortunate to have attended her 65th high school class reunion.
Wanda’s employment career started in the aviation industry but continued with several industrial companies including Caterpillar. In 1982, she started and ran her own monogramming business and in 1985, she finished her Associate degree in business at Danville Community College in Danville, Il.
She met her husband, Joe, in 1967 and they shared 42 years together before he lost his battle with cancer. Over the years, Joe’s career took them to different cities around the country including Escondido, California and Portland, Oregon, finally settling in Danville, Illinois. They resided there until Joe retired from Hyster Forklift. While visiting their daughter in Green Valley, Arizona, they found a partially built home on acreage with superb views of Elephant Head. They were able to finish this house to their specifications and moved to Arizona in 1997.
Wanda grew up in a musically and artistically talented family. She played the piano by ear and taught herself to play the guitar. She painted watercolors and her pride and joy of those were the paintings of her family home, barn, and the local church from her hometown. There were numerous cross stitch hangings, done by her, throughout their home, mostly of Joe’s favorite character, mermaids. Wanda loved to garden and later in life starting growing gourds which she then dried and painted. She was also a writer and penned a book, which was a promise to her daughter, after Pam lost her battle with cancer. It was a loving tribute to the life Pam had lived along with history of Wanda’s ancestors and Southern Illinois. Her favorite recreational activity was golf and while she may not have been a long hitter, her drives were always straight as an arrow.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Joe Olles, and two of her precious children, Pamela Hanlon and Daniel Gibson. She is survived by her son, Brooke (Donna) Gibson of Eva, AL; stepdaughter Sue (Ken) Woodward of Green Valley, AZ; stepson, Mike Olles of Simi Valley, CA; seven grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, along with her sister, Ada Tiepelman of St. Louis, MO.
Wanda will be laid to rest next to Joe in a private ceremony for the family. Remembrances in her name can be made to the charity of your choice.