Sandy, 1986

Alexandra Marie (Sandy) Olson

August 1, 1952 – January 28, 2021

Alexandra Marie (Sandy) Olson died January 28, 2021, after a courageous battle with ALS, surrounded by her loving family. Sandy was born August 1, 1952, to Thomas and Margaret Nemzek in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Moving often, to Reading, Ohio, Naperville, Illinois, and Orinda, California, the family moved to the Tri-Cities in 1969. Sandy’s first impression of the dry part of the Evergreen State was that it resembled “the ends of the earth.” Of course, this was the place where she’d spend the rest of her life.

Sandy graduated from Kennewick HS in 1970, then enrolled at WSU, where, while earning a degree in Fine Arts, she met a group (aka The Wild Bunch) who would become lifelong friends.

After graduation Sandy used her artistic skills, working as an illustrator for Vitro Engineering, then for Westinghouse Hanford. She designed a logo for Christ the King’s annual Sausage Fest, and created original sidewalk art for the Prosser Harvest and Street Painting Festival.

Sandy met the love of her life, Rick Olson, in 1982, and they were married in September, 1983. Son Eric was born in 1984 and daughter Kristen in 1987. Sandy spent much of her free time in the garden, and as her interest grew, she became a Master Gardener in 1990. She loved working in their demonstration garden in Kennewick, and the diamond from her engagement ring is still buried there, somewhere.

When her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2000, Sandy’s support and research led her to become a group facilitator for the Alzheimer Support Group for Kadlec Neurological Resource Center, where she also facilitated the Head Injury Support Group.

Sandy loved dogs, fostering many in addition to her own beloved animals. In 2004 she became a founding member of the Tri-City Dog Park Society and the group’s first treasurer. Active in fundraising, she especially enjoyed the Society’s annual Pooch Plunge, and always had many tales to tell of dog shenanigans.

Sandy was a voracious reader, always with a book at hand, especially mysteries and romances. Her other interests included knitting warm clothing for people and dogs, and making beautiful quilts for the family.

Travel with family was a big part of Sandy’s life. By car, plane or train, summers often meant a reunion at the Nemzek family cabin on Pelican Lake in Minnesota to enjoy her birthday, and childhood favorites fishing, boating, and swimming. Camping trips around Washington and Oregon were also a summer ritual. In later years Sandy and Rick rafted in Utah, cruised to Alaska and saw the sights in New England, the Southwest, California, Louisiana and Washington, DC. Further afield, they enjoyed travel in Egypt and a tour of Eastern Europe.

Preceded in death by her parents, Sandy is survived by her husband, Rick and son Eric Olson, both of Richland; daughter Kristen (Diego Valdes) Olson of Kirkland; sister Paula Nemzek of Seattle, brothers Tom (Susie) Nemzek of Kennewick and Mike (Pam) Nemzek of Redwood City, CA. Also true sisters and Wild Bunch members Barbara, Gloria, Lynn, Peggy, and Robin. And Sandy’s favorite canine companion, Taffy.

Ever the true Master Gardener, Sandy’s remains are being composted. There will be no services at this time.

Contributions may be made to:

Tri-City Dog Park Society

PO Box 2431

Richland, WA 99352


ALS Association Evergreen Chapter

19226 66th Ave S, Ste L-105

Kent WA, 98032-2110

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