Linda Marie Riley Olsen was born in Miles City, Montana, on October 18, 1953, the youngest of four children born to John Dolliver Riley, a state highway foreman, and Elizebeth “Betty” Riley, a registered nurse. Linda passed away peacefully on September 12, 2019, after a short battle with cancer.
To plant a memorial tree in honor of Linda Marie Olsen (Riley), please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
She grew up playing the piano and organ in church, attending elementary school in Sidney, Montana, before graduating in 1971 from Dawson County High School in Glendive. At the Glendive hospital, she worked as a dishwasher and later as a labor and delivery aide.
Linda attended Montana State University in Bozeman. In the fall of 1971 there, she met her future husband Pete in chemistry class. Linda graduated with a nursing degree in 1975, did her clinicals in Billings, and then worked as a nurse in Lewistown from 1975-76. She worked at St. Vincent Hospital in Billings from 1976-2003 where she served in the ER, in ICU, and on St. Vincent’s first flight team, which was the 10th medflight program established in the United States. She also served as house supervisor at St. V’s.
In 1977, she married Peter Olsen at St. Thomas Church in Billings. They raised four children--a teacher, a veterinarian, a horse trainer, and a nurse--at their place on Canyon Creek, west of Billings.
In 1996, Linda earned a masters degree in healthcare administration from the University of Colorado. Over the course of her career, she served as director of St. Vincent’s Help Flight, Emergency, and Strategic Development departments. She was the founding director of the Ask-A-Nurse program. Later she served as regional director of Marketing and Outreach. From 2003-2005, she was the executive director of Cardiovascular Services at Benefis Hospital in Great Falls. In 2005, she joined Billings Clinic as director of Regional Clinics, Primary Care (where she helped start the Internal Medicine Residency), and Occupational Health, Same Day Care, and Express Care. She retired from Billings Clinic on September 6, 2019.
She was always the one insisting on family photos during events and get-togethers and was particularly fond of her time with her grandchildren who called her “Mimi” and took every spare moment of her time. In recent years, she loved taking time to watch the grandkids, figuring out what made each of them tick. She loved finding all the attributes her grandchildren shared with her children. Linda had a deep motherly love for her daughters-in-law as if they were her own. Her animals and home were her sanctuary and welcoming to grandchildren. Family was always sure to find a couple quirky cats and friendly cowdogs at Mimi’s house. Linda was a “Sister on the Fly” and enjoyed traveling, photography, and creating jewelry. Her travels included nationwide dog shows, which culminated when her Irish wolfhound “C.C.” became an AKC “Champion of Record,” an accomplishment of which she was very proud.
On August 27th, Pete and Linda celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary. Linda’s last days were spent surrounded by her husband, children, grandchildren, and other family members. Fittingly, she was also surrounded by colleagues and the Billings healthcare institutions she helped shape over her 44 year career. She will be missed on all those fronts.
She was preceded in death by her father John D. Riley, her mother Elizebeth E. Riley, and her brother Ronald Riley. She is survived by her husband Pete Olsen of Molt; her sister Joyce Riley of Helena; her brother David (Sue) Riley of Billings; her son Casey (Melissa) Olsen of Columbus, her son Jesse (Tierney) Olsen of Absarokee, her son Sam (Lacey) Olsen of Clearmont, Wyoming, her daughter Rette Olsen of Molt; and six grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made in her name to The Glioblastoma Foundation to support brain cancer research. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, September 21st, at Smith Funeral Chapel in Billings, 304 34th St West. Condolences may be shared online at www.smithfuneralchapels.com.