Francis Robert Olen (Olejniczak)

francis olen (olejniczak)

August 10, 1926 ~ March 20, 2023

Born in: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Resided in: College Station, Texas

Francis Robert Olen, 96, passed away on March 20, 2023, in College Station, TX.

Francis was born on August 10, 1926, in Milwaukee, WI to Frank and Victoria Olejniczak and ten brothers and sisters (Mike, Sophie, Ki, Wally, Eddie, Tess, Harry, Norbert, Joe, and Edna.) Most of his life was spent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but it began on a farm in Racine. On that farm, he spent every day climbing peach trees and singing the Hit Parade with his family. From a young age, he was surrounded by music, with his brother Mike playing the banjo and his father playing the concertina. On his ninth birthday, his brother Eddie said, “go upstairs; I have a present for you.” Fran never put down his accordion again. Every day after school, he would cart his accordion 10 miles to his lessons. It didn’t take long before word got out to all his friends that wanted the party started; you better tell Fran to bring his accordion.

Throughout his childhood, he tried every sport imaginable. He played football and baseball, was a figure skater, and a hockey player, but none of them matched his love for golf. His abilities even earned him an invitation to compete in the amateur PGA tour of 1945. He politely declined, favoring to compete in what his family had named the Olen Open. In truth, he had already made prior commitments, accepting a bet that he couldn’t drive to the West Coast and back in under two weeks. When he and his two buddies accepted the offer, they jumped in a car that could only go 30 miles an hour. Two weeks they spent driving on deserted highways hiking the Grand Canyon, sleeping under their car to avoid the bears, and then returning home to win the bet, their prize being a beer each— A fun challenge.

In his 20s, Francis decided to work at a company called Ladish. It was here he worked on his proudest project to date, sending the rocket ship to the moon. He and his team designed the throat insert to assist in the rocket’s launch without the risk of the component melting. He will always be a small piece of history. However, he would argue that this was not the most significant thing to ever come from his time at Ladish. It was there in the drafting department that he met Diane Fowler, the first woman ever in the drafting department. Just a few months after their first meeting, they would be married.

Francis and Diane had six children together. (Christine, Timothy, Thomas, James, Maureen, & Stephen.) They hardly stood out at the Olen family picnics, which typically hosted up to 100 family members. Being close to his siblings, it was hard for him to decide to move to Texas, but with their support, he moved Diane and the children down to a little town called Bryan. Texas was good to the family, allowing Fran to work and his children to have more space to get up to no good. But all too soon, it was there in Texas that Diane passed away.

Fran moved back to Wisconsin, then from Wisconsin to Alabama, and from Alabama to Iowa, Iowa to Illinois, and finally to California. No matter where he ended up, his sisters always called in. While his brothers always found a way to meet him for a game of golf. They even went as far as having weekly conference calls that they humorously called “having mass,” where they would drink their favorite bourbon OFC, or as they fondly called it, only for Catholics. Once in retirement, Francis returned to Texas, where most of his children had settled.

It was there in his house in Bryan that he watched his grandchildren grow and steal his candy bars. He continued to play that accordion for parties, only now it was the chicken dance for a little girl’s birthday party. Even in retirement, he never stopped drawing, helping his neighbors with house plans, and his kids with renovations. Always generous, he’d help anyone at the drop of a hat. All the while, he was smiling and keeping a positive outlook on life. He never forgot to tell himself a joke and laugh like hell. Every day was terrific— no hits, no runs, no errors.

Fran was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Victoria Olejniczak; his loving wife, Diane Olejniczak; siblings,  Michael (Marie) Olen, Sister Amabillia (Sophie), Kenneth (Catherine) Olen, Walter (Sylvia) Olen, Ed (Eleanor) Olen, Tess (Earl) Zimmer, Harry (Lucille) Olen, Norbert Olen, Joseph (Genevieve) Olen, and Edna (Arthur) Kordus; nieces, Marcella Kuntner and Monica Olen and nephew, Kenny Olen.  He is survived by his children, Christine (Raymond) Freese, Tim (Kim) Olejniczak, Tom (Dana) Olejniczak, James (Cynthia) Braddock, Maureen (Quint) Floyd, Stephen (Kayley) Olejniczak;
grandchildren, Jenna, Ande, Hannah, Catherine, Ashlee, Taylor, Anna, Abby; many nieces, nephews and other family members and friends.  Express condolences to the family at

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  1. Maureen, your father Francis, was truly one of a kind. I loved hearing your stories. Thoughts and prayers are with you. Jane

  2. Fantastic life full of amazing things. Sadly Diane passed to soon. He kept living and showed all his family & friends to enjoy each day. May all the wonderful memories help you to heal from this loss and reflect often on what a gift he was to all who loved and knew him. I can picture him and my grandpa whooping it up with some accordion music in heaven ❤️

  3. Maureen my heartfelt condolences to you and your family. Your Daddy left quite the legacy. The heart always remembers. Big hugs and lots of love. Brenda

  4. – I can’t imagine how much you will miss this legend-
    May you find great peace in knowing he is reunited with your dear mother
    and being seated at Gods’ right hand in all his Glory.
    So much love to you Maureen.

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