Willard Eugene ‘Gene’ Ohlson: April 26, 1936 – Oct. 17, 2020



Gene passed peacefully at his Lagoon Point, Whidbey Island, Wash., home surrounded by his family.

He was born and raised in Cody, Wyo. His interest in the outdoors and sports began at an early age. Hunting, fishing, camping, baseball and basketball just to name a few. He was handy with tools and enjoyed creating and building things, including kites. This developed into a love of flight.

He left Wyoming to train as a draftsman at the North American Aviation Co. In further pursuit of his love of design and flight, he returned to Wyoming to attend the University of Wyoming for a year before being drafted into the Army.

After completing his duty, he returned to Laramie to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. During these years he continued to develop his outdoor skills, climbing and skiing as much as he could.

Shortly after graduating, he received a telegram offer of employment from Boeing in Seattle. He stayed with them for 30 years, working as an aeronautical engineer.

On landing in Seattle, he immediately signed up for an ice-and-snow climbing class, which is where he met his soon-to-be wife, Merilyn. Together they raised their children on the outdoors with a diet full of hiking, canoeing, skiing, scuba diving, river rafting and sea kayaking.

He bagged most of the peaks in the region, including several trips up Mount Rainier; spent 25 years with the National Ski Patrol on Crystal Mountain, including avalanche instruction; and became an expert whitewater rafting oarsman with several trips on the Colorado River. He also spent time racing sailboats and generally adventuring all throughout the Puget Sound on land and sea. He was never without his camera as an amateur photographer and always had a passion for astronomy.

He eventually retired to Whidbey Island with Merilyn. Close enough to enjoy family and friends, but always within view of the Olympic Mountains and ocean. Despite his drive for adventure, he remained very close to his children and treasured his grandchildren as the five of them arrived. He was always grateful for the close friends his adventures brought, none of which would have happened without them.

He is survived by his wife Merilyn; children Kurt and Kara and their spouses Tami and Bassim; his brother Dan; five grandchildren; one great grandchild; and many nieces and nephews.

Special thanks to our neighbors, friends and family for support and thoughtful messages to us. Thanks, too, to the Home Watch care givers, Whidbey Island Hospice, and Whidbey Memorial.

No event is planned at this time, but we are working on a memorial bench to be placed at Crystal Mountain Resort.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the National Parks, www.nationalparks.org.

Family and friends are encouraged to share memories and condolences at www.whidbeymemorial.com

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