Dennis Olsen

Dennis Edward Olsen: aka Captain Dennis, Capn’ and Denny was born March 2, 1941 in North Dakota to Edward Oliver Olsen and Bernice Evangeline Hanson Olsen. Dennis, the third of five children, moved with family to Dana Point, CA in 1954 He was married to the love of his life, Luana Olsen for over 43 years until her passing in June 2006. He immediately found kinship with the sand and sea and became one with the ocean soon after. At the young age of 21, Dennis volunteered as crew, one of three, on the Sailboat PATAPSCO II and set sail from Newport Beach, California to Port Jefferson, New York, via the Panama Canal and then back home to California. The salt water became his blood, and surfing, fishing, and sailing became his lifestyle. His first job was under the tutelage of the iconic surfing and surf Industry pioneer and legend Hobie Alter and the brand of his namesake, Hobie Surfboard Shop. At the Capistrano Beach shop, Dennis started out sweeping floors and moved up to glassing and shaping. His craftsmanship was sought after. Dennis’s classmate, James (Jimmy) Lomas, was Hobie’s 1st employee who preceded Dennis in passing just this last year. Dennis later went on to work for Dale Velzy, another iconic master surfboard maker. Dennis met the love of his life Luana Herrington shortly after their arrival from North Dakota, as his sister Karen Olsen Knapp, became best friends. They were in the same grade. Dennis and Luana would not become an item until later when they were in their early 20’s. Luana was the daughter of two early Southern California pioneering surfers Voss and Margret Herrington, who were also two founders of the San Onofre Surf Club and Dana Point Yacht Club. Their best friends were surfing legends Lorrin & Cecelia Harrison. Luana being an excellent surfer herself, she and Dennis had that mutual interest, as well as her being a child of parents who had vast ocean interests, in 1961 became the first woman surfer to appear in Surfer Magazine and Dennis’s high school ceramics teacher was John Severson, who started the famed Surfer Magazine. Dennis & Luana would go on to marry in 1964 and have their first and only child. Lena Olsen Patton, a graduate of the class of 1982 from Hemet High School. Lena, naturally with a rich surfing legacy, history and heritage that her parents and grandparents started, founded a vintage swimwear company in honor of her mother Luana and named after her called “Love Luana New Vintage Swimwear”. After years of making surfboards, Dennis became a master carpenter who also worked for Lyman’s Redimix in Capo Beach, in the 60’s and drove a truck cross country for a bit, a jack-of-all-trades and a master of most all of them, enjoyed his life and friends near the ocean. Later, Dennis moved his girls and himself to Hemet, Ca. in 1976. Dennis & Luana would instantly make new friends, never forgetting the ones they left and spent the rest of their days with. Construction has been Dennis’s chosen trade and he loved every bit of it. He loved working hard. Lena said “my dad is the hardest working man I’ve ever known” and that she gets her work ethic from her father. He gained the love of many in the Hemet Valley by his honest, straightforward style. “Hey Mate” is what you’d hear him say when he greeted you. Eight years ago, Dennis was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a manageable disease if caught early, like his was. He underwent a stem cell transplant at UCLA 4 years ago and “sailed” right through. This same disease took the beautiful life of “Hobie” Alter. They linked my Dad’s back to making surfboards. Dennis had done well in and out of the hospital these past four years and would always pick up where ever he left off on a job. While in the hospital for a couple of weeks in December and gaining ground again as usual, with a twist of fate, Dennis met his maker in the early hours of Christmas Eve. He will be missed greatly and cherished in the hearts of many. Dennis is preceded in death by his wife Luana, and leaves his daughter Lena Olsen Patton, brothers Myron Olsen, Roger Olsen, Gary Olsen and sister Karen Olsen Knapp. A celebration of his beautiful life will be held at his home on February 2 at 12 PM. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to either SHACC (Surfing Heritage and Culture Center) shacc.org 949-388-0313 or to the hobiememorial.com.

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