Richard Arthur Olsen, 83, died on September 25, 2019 near his home in Shoshone, Idaho. He was born in Wendell, Idaho, on July 17, 1936 to parents, William Oscar Olsen and Lucile Williams Olsen, and grew up in Jerome, Idaho.
Richard is widely known as the founder and owner of Idaho’s Mammoth Cave & Shoshone Bird Museum of Natural History. He built his home here in a place where ancient lava flows scar the land and where harsh winter winds and snow provide nourishment for exploding wildflowers and lush sagebrush. He was also the founder and owner of Idaho’s European Wild Boar Hunt in Shoshone, Idaho that allows archers, pistol, rifle, and black powder enthusiasts the opportunity to hunt European wild boars.
Early in life, Richard developed an unbelievable love for nature and history. He was fascinated by the world around him and began his great collection by collecting butterflies and arrowheads as a boy on his father’s farm and hunting small animals and birds that he mounted for display. At the tender age of fourteen, his desire to share the things he found with others led him to plan to build a museum of natural history. Growing up, Richard became an avid hunter who traveled the world and brought back everything he could for this museum. He also learned taxidermy and most of the mounted animals you see today are the careful, steady work of his own two hands.
As a high school senior, Richard Olsen discovered Idaho’s Mammoth Cave in 1954 while hunting bobcats in the area. He was with his high school sweetheart at the time and stumbled across the entrance by accident. He talked her into exploring the cave with just a single flashlight and loved to chuckle about how as they made their way through the cavern (his excitement and imagination growing the whole time — expecting to find treasure at any moment), his girlfriend, scared and unhappy, cried the whole way in and the whole way out. He fell in love with the cave during this adventure and decided that he wanted to share it with the world.
Today, the Shoshone Bird Museum of Natural History is dedicated to the good of the community for education and enjoyment of all who visit to develop a better appreciation of our creator who made all of these beautiful things of nature. As the largest private museum of its kind in the North West, it features artifacts from around the world and three generations of Olsen collections.
As a young man who helped farm his father's land, Richard went to a Barber College in Pocatello, Idaho. This trade helped him to support his growing family throughout the years while following his dreams. He also worked as a trail walker and outdoor survivalist for the Anasazi Foundation, a non-profit wilderness therapy program based out of Mesa, Arizona that serves more than 10,000 youth and young adults each year. During this time, he taught young walkers how to track and read signs of animals and whenever he spoke they listened to him because of his knowledge and wisdom of nature.
“He was a great blessing to us all and his legacy needs to live on as a testimony of who he was.” ~ Ezekial Good Buffalo Eagle (Co-founder of the Anasazi Foundation).
Richard was also an Elder and High Priest of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and took great pride in sharing his testimony with others. He believed in his Father in Heaven and the Book of Mormon of which he lived by its principles to gain eternal happiness. All of his life he had a close relationship with the spiritual world and was always so thankful and grateful to have been able to come to this earth to get a body and prove to our Lord that he could obey his commandments. To Richard, the world was so beautiful and marvelous — the trees, plants, birds, animals, and butterflies. He was a true naturalist and loved all of God’s creations.
Richard was preceded in death by his wife, Linda Emery Olsen, by eight months; a brother, Baby Olsen; and his parents. He is survived by his brother, Delbert Olsen; sister, Lois Reincke (Doug); his 10 children, Stephen R. Olsen, son of Richard and Veneda Hansen; Jason C. Olsen, son of Richard and Joy Isabel Masson; Debra L. Murray (Troy), daughter of Richard and Joyce Willey Thorne Olsen; Rachel A. Olsen, Sarah L. Olsen, Rebecca L. Olsen, and Paul W. Olsen, daughters and son of Richard and Dale June Coffman Olsen; and Katie A. Olsen Furrer (Josiah), Peter A. Olsen, and James R. Olsen, daughter and sons of Richard and Sandra Marie Jones; and 11 grandchildren, Hannah Evans (Walker), Justin Lovato (Victoria), Kaleb Mitchell, Mikayla Olsen, Zachariah Halverson, Shaylynn Mitchell, Sadie Olsen-Wood, William Mitchell, Michael Olsen, Weston Furrer, and Adonis Golianis; and great granddaughter, Mia Rose.
A viewing will be held from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm, Thursday, October 3, 2019 at Farnsworth Mortuary, 1343 S Lincoln Ave, Jerome. A funeral service to honor and celebrate this great man's life will be held at 2:00 pm, Friday, October 4, 2019 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 505 N Greenwood St, Shoshone, Idaho, with a viewing beginning at 1:00 pm. Graveside dedication will conclude at the Shoshone Cemetery. Family and friends are also invited back to the church after the funeral to share all your wonderful stories and memories of him.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family on Richard’s memorial webpage at www.farnsworthmortuary.com and Idaho’s Mammoth Cave & Shoshone Bird Museum of Natural History Facebook page.
To send flowers to Richard's family, please visit our floral section.