Retired counselor Marty Olsen passes

Marty Olsen photo

Marty Olsen at the 2009 retirement event.

Long-time Shoreline Community College faculty counselor and Professor Emeritus Marty Olsen passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, April 13, 2014.

Olsen joined Shoreline in 1973 and retired in 2009; 36 years of service to thousands of students. At a retirement gathering, Olsen said it was the opportunities to work with students who had academic challenges, special needs or difficult life circumstances and then witness their growth and development that made his position much more than just a job.

“I remember a call from a woman who came to me to drop out of college because she did not think she could ever get through Math 80,” Olsen said in 2009. “She was calling to inform me that she had been selected as president of the Women in Engineering Group and was graduating with honors in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington.”

At his retirement, Olsen said he planned to simplify his schedule, adding, “I’m determined not to give advice to anyone unless they ask me for it. That may be challenging for me.” That self-assessment proved prophetic because Olsen went on to do counseling work as a consultant after leaving the college.

“Marty’s commitment to students and the community college mission is a lesson and legacy for us all,” Interim President Daryl Campbell said.

Prof. Amy Kinsel, President of the Shoreline faculty union, said Olsen was active in the union and involved in many other aspects of faculty life at Shoreline. Kinsel noted that Olsen recently attended services for two other members of the Shoreline community, faculty member Karen Toreson and Phyllis Topham, a faculty member who retired along with Olsen in 2009.

Services are pending and will be announced as soon as details are available.


  1. Bonnie L. Madison says:

    Brother Marty, meet me when I get there. Always in my heart and prays, my brother. Bonnie

  2. Nancy Kennedy says:

    Marty, I have attended services for fallen officers and they use a phrase that seems appropriate for you as well: “gone but not forgotten.” You no longer walk this earth but you will remain in many hearts forever. You were a bright spot in countless lives and you made a difference. God speed, my friend. N

  3. Linda Mickelberry says:

    My heart is broken.. Marty was the one person I could always say to myself..”all is well, Marty is here”. My thoughts now go to his dear ones, who will miss him so much.

  4. Patty Cheng says:

    Always a smile, always a chuckle and a stalwart for part-timers. Gone but never forgotten!

  5. Rosemary Dunne says:

    Marty worked tirelessly to smooth the life paths for students with the most significant barriers to education. His impact will not be forgotten. The students and staff of the Community Integration and Employment Program are very saddened by the news of Marty passing.

  6. DuValle Daniel says:

    Marty, thank you for being such a kind and generous man while you walked this earth. I’ll miss your smile.

  7. Jeff Keith says:

    Marty–I so enjoyed the times we chatted about the “old days” (early 1970s when I was a student here at SCC) and having lunch together, and your telling me about your mother’s work as a psychiatric nurse in the 1940s and’50s. I always figured you were inspired to be the wonderful counselor you were by her great works…But we never had that conversation…Peace be with you and your loved ones.

  8. Donna Myers says:

    Oh, Marty… I always found joy and comfort when I was lucky enough to run into you. You were one of the first people at SCC who made me feel like I was “home” and that my presence and work were significant for both students and faculty and staff. Just being near you made me happy. I have no doubt that many felt that God-given blessing that you shared with anyone who would open their heart to it. I will never forget you, Marty, and I hope to be blessed with your presence again someday.

  9. Ron Norimatsu says:

    Marty,Marty,Marty. When I think of you Marty, I remember a very effective counselor, a person who loved to ride bikes, a person with a great sense of humor, a person who was always cordial in meeting, a person who enjoyed conversing about anything, but most of all a person who loved to help people. It was a pleasure to know you at SCC and we will always appreciate all the people you helped with your wisdom. Sincerely your Friend, Ron Norimatsu

  10. Bruce Spitz says:

    Marty, you helped my daughter by becoming her friend and advisor. I do not see her without seeing you and what you taught her. She smiles constantly now and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope you are humming a Jimmy Buffett tune in exactly the place your mind always envisioned. We will love you through all the lifetimes.