William "Wild Bill" Olafsen
William “Wild Bill” Olafsen passed away peacefully on November 8, 2023 at home in Irving, Texas. He lived a full, happy, long life and reached his goal of living to age 97 three months ago! Bill had a puckish, carefree spirit about him, a kind and gentle heart, and blue eyes that rank up there with Frank Sinatra and Paul Newman.
Born August 12, 1926 at King’s County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York to parents Astrid and William, Bill spent his childhood in Norway and returned to the US as a young man, maintaining a strong link to his Norwegian roots. Bill attended school in Ohio, went on to serve in the United States Army from 1950 to 1952, and fought in the Korean War. After his years of service, Bill became an entrepreneur with a wide range of interests from a Chicken Delight franchise to a floor cleaning business, anything to keep him moving and grooving. Bill was always up for an adventure, like rollerblading down parking garages and polar bear plunges which led him to the moniker “Wild Bill” – a nickname he upheld throughout his life.
Bill moved to north Texas and was introduced to Gene (Demonbreun) Olafsen, by mutual friends Robin and Clyde Beggs in the early 90’s. Gene loved that Bill enjoyed living life to the fullest and could keep up with her and her family, and Bill was quickly embraced as “Gramps” when he and Gene married. Bill loved introducing his family to snow skiing, a sport he’d done most of his life and continued doing – at black diamond level –
into his early 80’s. He started an annual family trip to Vail, Colorado where he taught all of his grandchildren to ski…. none of whom reached his expert status, but so many wonderful memories were made on those trips. Bill and Gene loved to entertain, host bridge parties, and play Hand and Foot with their friends and grandchildren – a dynamic duo that was hard to beat. Most gatherings at the Olafsen home would end with a ceremonial swan dive, a signature move of Wild Bill’s. With his silver ponytail, beard and jolly laugh, Bill was a natural to play the role of Santa every holiday season and Gene loved being his Mrs. Claus.
In their golden years, Bill and Gene stayed active – selling real estate as The “O” Team well into their 80’s and traveling the world with family and friends. They were also frequent volunteers in the Irving arts community earning Bill the Irving Community Theatre Guild Star Award. Bill loved watching his Dallas Cowboys and Alabama Crimson Tide win! His favorite travel destination was Norway – Bill would light up when sharing stories of his childhood and loved to visit as often as possible. Bill and Gene shared the sweetest love growing old together. In his final days he sweetly commented that he was ready to be back with Gene.
Bill will be missed by his daughters Dana Merritt (Tom), Donna Femrite, and Denise Demonbreun, son David Demonbreun (Pau-la), granddaughters Margaux Gillman (Chad) and Taylor Demonbreun, grandson Edward
Demonbreun, great-grandchildren Rand, Finn, and Scout, sister Ruth Brink, nephew David Brink (Cindi), nieces Lisa Petersen (Bryan), Stephanie Balduff (Mark), and Kris-ten Winkel (Eric), and many other loving nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews, cousins, and wonderful friends.
Bill is preceded in death by his wife, Gene Olafsen, parents Astrid and William Olafsen, cousin Liff Lanza, and son-in-law John Femrite.
In his memory contributions may be made in honor of William Olafsen to Houses For Warriors
Symphony (https://irvingsymphony.org/support/), or Irving Main-stage Theatre
Services will be held on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 at Ben F. Brown’s Funeral Home, 707 N. MacArthur Blvd, Irving, TX at noon. Celebration of life luncheon to follow from 1-2.30 p.m. Burial service will be held at 3 p.m. at Oak Grove Cemetery.
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