Priscilla Olson (1951-2024)

By Geri Sullivan: I regret to share the news that Priscilla Olson died on Friday, June 14. Just yesterday, so it’s still the early days of shock and grief. Please forgive the incompleteness of this announcement.

Priscilla chaired four Boskones, edited books for NESFA Press, and was a brilliant convention programmer for Boskone and several Worldcons. She was also an avid gardener, a fierce competitor, intrepid traveler, excellent cook, and so much more. She was my friend for the past 35 years or thereabouts. Where does the time go?

Priscilla dealt with various forms of cancer the entire time I knew her. When she turned 70, she was proud of the fact that she was still alive after having had cancer for more than half of her life. For decades, medical advancements meant each new cancer was treatable and she carried on. That’s been getting harder of late, and just this past week it became clear there weren’t any more treatment options.

But when I think of Priscilla, I don’t think of cancer. I think of how she did the polar plunge when on a small boat cruise with friends in Alaska in 2012; of when we soared above the unique landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey along with hundreds of other hot air balloons in 2022; and how she spent this most recent New Year’s on a cruise around Cape Horn. I think of her persistence, and how much I’ll miss her.

There won’t be a funeral or memorial; Priscilla didn’t want one. She is survived by her husband Mark Olson, who asks for no phone calls or visitors at this time. Emailed condolences are welcome.

In December 2001, Priscilla and friends celebrated her birthday at PriscillaCon. Laurie Mann took the “quality chick” photo below and many others from PriscillaCon and the NESFA New Year’s Eve Party that followed shortly after. Let’s remember the good times.

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11 thoughts on “Priscilla Olson (1951-2024)

  1. Our thoughts are with Mark and so sorry to hear this news. She was a warm and gentle person. I have fond memories of her from the past and regret we will not see eachother again – till it is time for me to go to the party where all my other friends are…

  2. Priscilla was always helpful to the New England filk community. I worked with her on several Boskone filk programs, where she helped to make sure we had good musical guests. A very sad loss.

  3. She was also an awesome knitter and ran the knitting meetups at Boskone for years. She was very welcoming to a new knitter joining in many years ago. We will all miss her very much.

  4. This is sad. Priscilla is one of those people I feel like I’ve never NOT known in fandom. I searched through my emails and the earliest one from her was 2004, when she was so kind and inviting when I, a nobody, begged and pleaded to be a panelist at the Noreascon Worldcon. Through the years, Priscilla and I have been on gazillions of panels together at Boskones, from a panel on parasites (which we were both UNDULY excited about, months ahead of time); to extremophiles; to genetics; to speculative human evolution (with discussions of ST:TNG’s “Genesis” and Outer Limits’ “The Sixth Finger”!). The last time I really got a chance to chat with her was Boskone last year; we’d had a fannish disagreement, but all was forgiven, hugs were traded, and then we sat down for a lively and AWESOME panel – it was almost more of a kaffee klatsch, at a small round table with a white table cloth in the art show area, with only a couple other people. The topic was Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Priscilla astonished me with the depth of her knowledge. Not just Tarzan and Land that Time Forgot, but we chatted merrily – while the others watched on, not knowing what we were talking about – about the Carson of Venus books and even the Moon Maid. Priscilla even mentioned some ERB works I’d never even heard of. Priscilla, you will sorely be missed. And, Mark, my deepest condolences and hugs from afar in this time.

  5. I’m very sorry to hear about this. I’ve been going to Boskone since 2017, and Priscilla has done so much work over the years to make it a fun and welcoming place. My condolences to Mark and to everyone in the Boston/Boskone fan community who knew her.

  6. I am shocked and saddened at the news of Priscilla Olson’s passing. I will remember her as being gracious, dynamic, kind and very smart. I, and fandom at large have lost a great friend and advocate.

    May her memory always be a blessing to her husband Mark, her friends, family and fandom at large.

    Ad Astra…

  7. I was not a friend, but Priscilla was a landmark in my fannish landscape. I admired her knowledge and energy and competence, and most particularly her commitment to whimsy.

    My sincere condolences to those who knew and loved her.

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