Jeffrey (Jeff) Olen, PhD
March 10, 1946 – July 4, 2019
Jeffrey Olen, aka PopPops, was born March 10th, 1946 to the late Samuel and Belle Olen in Philadelphia, PA. On his way to an undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania-Wharton, he took four and a half years off, writing professionally for newspapers, magazines, radio, and children’s television, while living in San Francisco, Colorado Springs/Cascade, then returning to Philadelphia. Upon his return to Philadelphia, Jeff discovered his father had maintained his eligibility to finish his degree work at Penn. He settled back into the life of a student, culminating in his receiving his M.A. in religious studies and Ph.D. in philosophy at Temple University in 1976.
Jeff taught at Temple and at the Tyler School of Art prior to moving to Stevens Point, Wisconsin in summer of 1976, accepting a position to teach at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. From that point on his life experiences grew exponentially. He learned that -30 degrees Fahrenheit wasn’t really all that cold, that the Volkswagen Beetle is not particularly well heated nor well-suited to Wisconsin, and 6 foot snow drifts really do exist – yet he never owned a down jacket! Jeff had his favorite local haunts where he continued to philosophize and where they knew him by name and kept his preferred scotch on hand.
Professor Olen loved words and loved writing; during his tenure at UWSP he had three books about ethical and moral issues released in 1988 by publishers throughout the country: “Persons and Their World – An Introduction to Philosophy”; “Ethics in Journalism”; and “Moral Freedom”. He also co-authored several editions of “Applying Ethics”, a very popular college text, and has written articles and book reviews for philosophical journals in the United States, Canada and England.
It was while teaching at UWSP that Jeff met Corinne, destined to be his future wife, and her three kids. Jeff became an instant dad when they married in October 1982, and he found himself newly living with teenagers, their pet cats and dog, and his own rescue cat named Billie.
Having survived his kid’s teen years, Jeff and Corinne moved to Philadelphia in 1988 where he taught at Temple University for a short time. But Jeff loved the outdoors, and had left college years before to explore the mountains of Colorado, hiking and camping the great state many times and finding a particular love for the Pikes Peak region. Colorado continued to beckon, and in 1993 Jeff and Corinne moved for the last time to Chipita Park, CO.
Jeff taught at The University of CO-Colorado Springs, Regis University and Pikes Peak Community College. His devotion to his grandchildren inspired an opportunity to create a classic toy store in Woodland Park, CO called “A Wise Child” and it was filled with all sorts of educational and fun things to delight his grandchildren AND everyone else’s.
His passion for the outdoors never ceased, and his crowning moment of glory came when he purchased his first Jeep. Now, he had the means to explore the forests and backroads of the land he loved so much. His children, grandchildren, friends and family enjoyed many hours of dusty trail rides, blood-curdling gravel switchback roads, and cliff hanging adventures. With his dog in tow, Jeff could disappear into the wilderness, and reemerge hours later, refreshed, relaxed and ready to challenge the world again.
Jeff is survived by his wife Corinne (Zagzebski), his kids Jeff (Beth) Button, Mark (Heike ) Button and Deanna Wiczek, grandchildren Angela, Jessica, Dustin, Daniel, Cara, Brenna, Sam and Thomas, great-grandson Dekkar, with two more great-grandchildren on their final approach; his sisters Charlotte (Ray) Olen-Derstine and Susan Olen, and nephew Grant Olen Cobb.
Love for his family was Jeff’s guiding force, and though times were trying, he was always there for them. An avid reader, Jeff often quoted from Ernie Pyle that he would continue to have “a profound reluctance to give up the future” – wishing he would get the chance to see what his grandchildren would become. Jeff’s philosophy will remain with us forever. For him, life after death is possible as long as personality and memories remain intact - the person is not the same as a human being. It is with this belief, that his family keeps his memory and personality alive inside each and every one of us. Jeff is now at peace, soon to be roaming the mountains with his beloved dogs Peco and Kane by his side and wanting all of us to know his final wish – how he wants to be remembered: “He tried.”
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