Olivia Van Wagoner, 94, beloved mother, grandmother, and friend passed away on November 12, 2015 in Auburn, WA. Olivia was born on November 18, 1920 in McClusky, North Dakota to John and Dora Krein. Her family moved to the Yakima Valley when she was a teen.
She married Howard Van Wagoner in March of 1942 and remained faithful to him, even after his death in 1974. Together, they raised two children, Richard and Carol, who both currently reside in Auburn, WA.
Olivia was a woman with many skills. She was in nursing school when she met Howard and later worked as a nurse, which she continued to do while Howard served in the United States Army, during WWII. They eventually opened a diner in Yakima where both of their children helped run the family business. Later on, Howard’s job, with the railroad, took them to Auburn and they bought their house on “J” Street. This is where Olivia started her career as a real estate agent, which she excelled at.
Upon Howard’s untimely death in 1974, Olivia committed her life’s work to youth ministries, through Youth for Christ and CEF - Child Evangelism Fellowship. She devoted her life to God and made it her mission to help children accept Jesus into their hearts and know what it was to have God as their Lord and Savior. Olivia taught Good News Clubs for over three decades; which is after school child outreach program through CEF. She served as the CEF Director for the Kennewick and Pasco areas and later became the Assistant Director for King County.
Olivia loved to travel and through her outreach ministry, she made her way to most of the 50 states, including Alaska, Hawaii, and New York. Her travel often included her daughter, sisters, and friends. She also visited several places outside of the USA, including; Australia, Austria, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Holland, Hong Kong, Israel, Korea, London, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Olivia was cherished by her family. She fed them her delicious homemade soup and German foods but most importantly, fed them spiritually. Her one goal, while she was on this earth, was to ensure that each and every one of her loved ones accepted God's promise of eternal life by asking him into their hearts. Her one desire was that they
would all be reunited in God's Heavenly Kingdom. She lived a stellar example of taking all of life's challenges to God and trusting him to see each one through. Even in her last days in life, she would often say, "Our God is a Good God."
Knowing that Olivia has a special place in heaven brings comfort to her friends and family. She will forever remain in the hearts of those who had the absolute pleasure of knowing her. (The list of people blessed by her friendship and love is too large to list in this memorial.)
She will truly be missed!!
Olivia was preceded in death by her parents; brother, Robert Krein; and sisters, Norma Montgomery, Violet Wetzel, and Antonia Renfrow.
Olivia is survived by her son, Richard Van Wagoner (Sandy); daughter, Carol Dione (Fred); sister, Hilda White; brother, Marvin Krein (Barbara); three grandsons, James Morris (Tonia), Doug Van Wagoner (Monica), and David Van Wagoner (Mary); granddaughter, Stephanie Ellwein (Todd); 6 great grandchildren, and 3 great-great grand-babies.
A memorial service for Olivia will be held at 11:00 a.m. at Grace Community Church, 1320 Auburn Way S, Auburn, WA 98002 on Saturday, December 5, 2015, There will be a potluck following the service, please bring your favorite dish or treat to share. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Child Evangelism Fellowship of Washington, PO Box 16182, Seattle, WA 98116 in memory of Olivia.
God took away a special part of this world when he took Olivia to be with him. Her service to God throughout her daily walk in life was a true testament of God's Eternal Love.
We were so blessed by her love and acceptance. Olivia ended most conversations by saying, “Blessings on you.”
Her grandchildren want to share a special memory of a Christmas Eve tradition they will treasure forever. After attending Christmas Eve services at Grace Community Church; formerly known as Bible Baptist, the family gathered together and Grandma Van (as they referred to her) would share the story of the birth of Jesus. She had a large felt board that she placed on an easel, and used felt cut-outs of scenery and characters to engage them in the miracle of his birth. She was so eager to get out that felt board and easel, while her grandkids just wanted her to rush through it so they could open their gifts. She was always patient and never rushed; she knew that the most precious gift she could give to her grandchildren was the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. She made sure to share it with them every year; even years later with one of her great granddaughters, Chantelle Hicks.
Here is a quote from her grandson, James.
"All I want is just one more hug and peck...every day for the remainder of my life."