Cover photo for Lyle Olson's Obituary
Lyle Olson Profile Photo
1929 Lyle 2020

Lyle Olson

November 12, 1929 — August 7, 2020

Lyle Franklin Olson, long-time Pocatello resident and Idaho State Journal icon, passed away on Friday, August 7, 2020, after suffering general decline in health during previous months. Lyle lived a full life, made rich by the love of his family, his commitment to excellence in journalism, and his enjoyment of sports, nature, and friends throughout Pocatello. Following are some brief observations of a well-loved man: Generous, Lyle was quick to offer financial support to family, his tender heart prevailing. And if his temper sometimes got the upper hand, he later deeply rued any unkind words. He devoted time reading to his girls and supplied creels-full of fish for his familys dining pleasure. His genial presence on the golf course and the bowling alley, or his energy at ISU ball games, was always welcome. His humor and wit kept people smiling, and enlivened both his newsroom and his family room. His life unfolded like those of many other Idaho boys, yet here are some dates and details unique to this special gentleman. Lyle was born and grew up on a small ranch near Montpelier, Idaho, where his family worked hard running a small dairy and growing crops. Born one month after the Great Depression hit, and reared during WWII, he had many stories of those times, working the ranch and walking to school. His family moved into town when Lyle was a teenager; he graduated from Montpelier High School in 1947, having participated in wood shop and choir, football and basketball (teammates nicknamed him "Spider" due to his long agile legs). Many times, he recounted that the ranch had a bumper wheat crop that fall, and this unexpected providence enabled him to enroll at Idaho State College (later ISU), which changed his life. He played freshman football and basketball and met his future bride Naida there a few years later. Married on July 1, 1950 in Paris, Idaho, Lyle and Naida honeymooned at Fish Haven on Bear Lake. They were blessed through the years with four lovely, and lively, girls. Early in the marriage, Lyle sold and repaired Pfaff sewing machines in Montpelier, but within a few years had saturated that market and so switched to railroad work. For several years, Lyle alternated between the railroads seasonal employment and college, where he labored to obtain his degree in journalism. After graduating, he was hired at the Idaho State Journal (ISJ) where he represented their entire Sports Department. In 1959 he took a "dream job" as a sports reporter at the Portland Oregonian newspaper, but within a few months the paper shut down due to a strike, and Lyle returned to the ISJ. Having never traveled far as a child, his move to Pocatello was an adventure. Later he lived in Oregon and travelled in Idaho and the Northwest fly fishing and attending occasional news conferences. He joined a group of teachers to tour the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, drove the winding California coastline many times, filled his golf bag with pineapples in Hawaii, and travelled as far as the Netherlands to experience culture outside the US. But he always deeply valued the beauty and history of Idaho, and cherished life as a Pocatellan, approaching home after many a road trip with the phrase, "This looks like a nice little town. What do you say we stay here tonight?" Lyle could be found participating in several sports scenes: He headed up a bowling league for many seasons; he was a staunch supporter of Bengal sports, attending their ball games for as long as he was able; summers outside the newsroom were spent on the golf course or fishing local rivers. When once asked what he was most proud of accomplishing in his life, he responded that he felt very good about his prowess as a fly-fisherman...and certainly raising his four daughters! These daughters and many grandchildren benefitted from his expert bowling and golf lessons. Lyle committed himself to the ISJ until he retired in 1991. Although his love was always sports reporting, he served in many newsroom capacities and became Managing Editor in charge of the newsroom around 1967. Big news stories during his tenure included the huge Portneuf River flood of Pocatello in 1962, the assassination of JFK in 1963, civil rights protests and Vietnam war demonstrations, and the Watergate scandal leading to Richard Nixons resignation in 1974. As Managing Editor, Lyle wrote numerous editorials, sometimes as many as two per day, six days per week. Each evening, his deepest newsman satisfactions or frustrations would be evident to his family as he read a particular turn of phrase in that days paper. After retirement, Lyle served at ISU teaching journalism classes and as faculty advisor to the school newspaper, The Bengal. Students offered many comments of appreciation for his mentorship. He then returned to the ISJ to work part-time at editorials and his first love sports writing. After Naida passed in 2015, their oldest grandchild Christopher lived with Lyle and enabled him to continue living at home. Later, Lyle moved to Quail Ridge in Pocatello, and then to Morning Star Senior Living in Idaho Falls. His daughters visited often and enjoyed his accounts of youthful escapades, working experiences, golfing anecdotes, fishing tales, family stories, memories of good friends, wisdom, and advice. His final years were marked by a longing for spiritual insight, and an effort to know more of Jesus Christ and His peace. Lyle was born on November 12, 1929, to James C. Olson and Eliza (King) Olsen in Montpelier, Idaho. He is survived by daughters, Deborah Olson Ridder and husband Elvin, Karen Olson Shropshire and husband David, Christine Olson Phillips and husband Michael, and Laurie Olson Peters and husband Bob. Also surviving are grandchildren: Christopher Ridder and Carol Ridder Watts; Jennifer Brookhart and Sara and Lara Shropshire; Jordan, Jonathan, and Stephen Phillips; and Alyssa Peters Miller and Jill Peters. Lyle was preceded in death by his wife, Naida Yost Olson; his parents; his four siblings, Vera Olsen MacFarland, Harold Olsen, Norma Olsen Bates, and Evan Olson; and by his granddaughter, Sarah Phillips. There will be a graveside service on Monday morning, August 17, 2020, at Mountain View Cemetery (site at 34-East), 1520 S. 5 th Ave. in Pocatello at 11:00 a.m. The service will be led by Ben LeBarge, former Major with the Salvation Army, for which Lyle was a volunteer. The family welcomes your presence (with masks and distancing) and hopes you will kindly share your memories and thoughts of Lyle during this time. Condolences to the family and shared memories can be posted online at Flowers are welcome or, if desired, donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the Salvation Army or to the ISU Bengal Athletic Boosters. The family appreciates your kind thoughts and prayers.

Graveside Service

08/17/2020 11:00

Mountain View Cemetery

1520 S. 5th Ave.




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