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Nancy Jane Olson

1938 ~ 2020 (age 82)


Dr. Nancy Jane Nau-Olson passed away peacefully from natural causes on December 9, 2020 in San Rafael, CA.  She was born in Los Angeles on October 5, 1938 and resided in San Francisco.  Dr. Nau-Olson was the only child of Marion Francis “Frank” Nau and Katherine “Kay” Ambrose Nau.  She was a fifth generation Californian and immensely proud of her California roots.  She leaves behind two daughters, Lisa Olson Riley of Houston, TX and Caren “Cece” Olson of Federal Way, WA and two grand pups, Luke and Cocolina. 

She was a superb intellect, musician, and artist.  Nancy received her undergraduate degree in Art Education from Occidental College in 1960.  In the 1970s and 1980s she followed up her education with the accomplishment of three master’s degrees, a MA in Religion from the School of Theology in Claremont, California, an MFA, and a MA Music (Organ) both from California State University – Fullerton.  And, finally, she completed her Doctor of Religion from the School of Theology in Claremont.

Intellectually, Dr. Nau-Olson was fascinated by the Old Testament and Jewish History and Studies.  She was fluent in both Hebrew and Spanish.   In the 1960s and 1970s, she was an educator teaching art and doing abundant paintings of her own.  Nancy’s paintings received high visibility in shows and positive critical acclaim.  She was active in the School of Feminist Artist which started in California and gave inspiration to many other women seeking professional success in Art.  She turned to Music in the late 70s and 80s and perfected her performance skills on the piano and organ and writing music.  She was always active in The Episcopal Church working as an assistant clergy, organist and supporting music programs.  In the late 1970s she visited Church leadership around the US to advocate for Women in the Clergy. 

She followed her heart to Israel, living and working there for several years before returning to the US to teach at Bemidji State University in Minnesota.  She retired to San Francisco, CA in 2000.  She was active member at Grace Cathedral and later converted to Jewish faith and was an active member at Congregation Sherith Israel.  In San Francisco, she learned to do art graphics on the computer and as her sight failed her in later years, she loved to pray aloud in Hebrew, discuss theology at any chance, listen to music and visit with her neighbors.  To honor her life, her family asks that you play a little music in her honor and say a kind prayer(s) for those suffering in these difficult times. 

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