Edward Olsen Obituary (1941 – 2021) – Salinas, CA

Edward Allan Olsen
August 29, 1941 – December 9, 2021
Professor and author Edward Allan Olsen died on December 9, 2021 at the age of 80 in Salinas, California. From 1980 until his retirement in 2008, he taught in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., Where he was a valued colleague and mentor to many. Prior to that he was a Japan / Korea Analyst at the US State Department in Washington, DC (1975-80) and taught at George Williams College in Illinois (1974).
Allan was born August 29, 1941 to Edward C. (Eddie) and Esther Olsen, in Brooklyn, NY, and grew up in the Norwegian neighborhood of that city. After attending Brooklyn Technical High School, he served in the United States Army as a photographer, then studied photography at the Art Center School in Los Angeles and worked as a projectionist for NBC News in New York. In Los Angeles, he met Soon Hong Bae from South Korea at an international festival, while carrying his camera. She agreed to pose for a portrait, one thing led to another, and they married in 1965. Inspired by Soon, Allan applied his photographer’s eye and curiosity about the world to new areas of study; he received a BA in History from UCLA (1968), an MA in Asian Studies from UC Berkeley (1970), a Certificate in Japanese from the Stanford University Interuniversity Center in Tokyo (1969-70) and a doctorate in international studies at American University (1974).
An influential thinker, he is the author of ten books on Asian studies and American foreign policy and co-editor of four others; he is also the author of numerous book chapters, journal articles and papers presented at conferences in the United States and around the world, always writing drafts by hand on yellow notepads. He has studied not only history but also contemporary issues, constantly thinking about current events for the many opinion pieces he has published. He received an award from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge for an article on human rights policy and several grants from the US Department of Defense for research and travel to Europe, Asia and Australia. He has served on the advisory board of several journals.
A caring and kind man with strong ethics and a dry sense of humor, Allan explored the world and enjoyed the comforts of home. He was extraordinarily productive professionally, but good at wandering around in his spare time. In addition to his academic talents, he was a skilled carpenter – a trade he had learned from his maternal grandfather, a cabinet maker – and an enthusiastic gardener and handyman. His family fondly remembers the cross-country hikes and camping trips of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as many “morning walks” in Fort Ord, near the Olsens Toro Park home. Allan’s survivors include his wife, Soon; daughter, Erica (Andrew Goodwin); son, Karl (Lauren Farrar); brother, Stephen (Marie); and the extended family. A commemorative event will be planned for 2022.

See the online memorial for Edward Allan Olsen

Posted by Monterey Herald Obits on December 19, 2021.


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