Keith Olson, 87

Keith Olson, age 87, passed away peacefully on January 22, 2024 after a battle with cancer.

    He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Irmgard, daughters Andrea Johnson (Jeffry) and Annette Sprague (Ted), grandchildren Everett, Dylan, and Caroline, and brother Clark (Barbara).

     He was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, moved to Indiana and Wisconsin with his brother and parents, Harry and Ruth (nee Stewart) Olson before they settled in Elmhurst.

    Keith graduated from York High School, left Illinois for college and graduate school, and lived in many other places, including New Mexico, Alaska, and Germany, before returning to Elmhurst. He was a lifelong educator, teaching chemistry and environmental studies at York for over 25 years and sharing his knowledge of prairie plants and varied interests with numerous others. His tireless work was instrumental in establishing and maintaining efforts to preserve the Elmhurst Great Western Prairie. He held volunteer positions in community organizations including the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra, DuPage Credit Union and Epiphany Lutheran Church. He actively supported many other local, national and international humanitarian, cultural and environmental associations. After retiring from York, he co-authored three non-fiction books and contributed to other publications.

    A memorial will be held at a later date, tentatively in June. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Elmhurst Symphony ( or a humanitarian, cultural, or environmental organization of your choice.