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Antique store will be makin' it without Olson

News editor

When the door of Bearly Makin’ It Antiques in Marion closed at the end of business Saturday, so, too, did a chapter in Mary Olson’s life.

She retired from the part-time store clerk job she’s held since 1997, one that took a year of convincing for her to take.

“When I moved to town in December of ’96, Oggie started right in on me,” Olson said. “I was retiring, Warren [her husband] was still with me, I wanted to do what I wanted to do on Saturdays.”

“I was still teaching at the time,” store co-owner Marion “Oggie” Ogden said. “I would eat lunch with her and tell her I really needed someone to open the shop on weekends. She wouldn’t say yes, but she would never tell me no.”

Once she said yes, Olson jumped right in, almost too fast for Ogden.

“We had to convince her not to make deals on things because she was trying to get rid of stuff fast,” Ogden said.

One of Olson’s favorite parts of the job has been unpacking the boxes of new items for the store Ogden and his partner, Dennis Maggard, bring in.

“When you open up those boxes it’s just like Christmas, it might be a spider, it might be a diamond ring,” she said.

Olson recalled a Christmas 50 years ago where family and friends thought she was getting a diamond ring, and a proposal, from her relatively new boyfriend Warren.

“I got a beautiful necklace,” she said. “February was my birthday, and I got the ring on my birthday.”

The two met after she took a teaching job at Centre in 1960. It wasn’t until 1964, however, when she moved to El Dorado to teach, that Warren drove down from Lincolnville to invite her to go on a date.

“He never would ask me up there, he was too shy,” Olson said. “He came down and put a note on my windshield one night — he’d seen my car downtown.”

They married in May, 1965, and Olson returned to Lincolnville and taught at Centre. She eventually found time to get involved in Lincolnville city government, first as clerk, then as a council member, and finally mayor.

In 1996, Warren’s health prompted an early retirement from Centre and a move to Marion to be closer to his doctor, but Olson continued teaching as a substitute in the Marion-Florence district for 11 years.

Olson said she felt unsettled in her Marion house when Warren died in 1998.

“This wasn’t really my home,” Olson said. “The day he passed away I could’ve just walked away and slammed the door. I had no connection with it. It’s just now becoming my home.”

Olson continued substitute teaching, working at Bearly Makin’ It, and volunteering. She served as Marion’s mayor from 2007 until losing a bid for re-election this past spring.

Politics behind her, Olson looked at things she wanted to do for herself and for her family and decided it was time to retire.

“If I want to be doing some more traveling, I’d better be doing that,” she said. “The first place I’m going is Louisiana to go down the Mississippi. I want to get to Alasksa before I die. I go to Branson every time I get the chance.”

Olson said she’s considering getting a smaller place to live.

“I don’t even know where I’m going yet,” she said. “I’m not quite ready for those duplexes yet. I still like to get down on my knees and do some gardening.”

Maggard hopes that whatever she does, she will come back to Bearly Makin’ It now and then.

“I hate to see her quit,” he said. “She made it really easy for Oggie and me — we might have to start working now. I hope she’ll still work for us a little bit. She said she might.”

A little bit will work for Olson.

“I’ll be helping them out when they’re desperate for help,” she said.

Last modified Dec. 30, 2014

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