Marc Olson, RIP

Posted in Random thoughts at 9:33 am by ducky

Marc Olson shot himself on Friday; I went to the funeral yesterday.

Marc was a good man, a happy man when I saw him last, about nine months ago, over lunch in Vancouver. He exuded happiness and success. While I didn’t know him extremely well, I had spent a bit of time with him and his family, as they owned the property next to my husband’s family’s vacation property out on Stuart Island. I remember them at a New Year’s Eve party, I remember setting off fireworks at his property, and other relatively banal but fun family-ish gatherings.

He was a pilot, so he and my husband had things to talk about. He had been the design manager for Microsoft Outlook 2002, so he and I had things to talk about. (He is the one who arranged for me to get an evaluation copy of Outlook 2002 when I was working on my book.)

I have been struggling to understand why he would shoot himself. He was professionally very successful, had lots and lots and lots of friends (literally hundreds of people came to his funeral), and I always knew him as a happy vigorous guy.

My best theory right now about why he killed himself is that it was the result of damage he sustained in his third, most recent, and I guess now final plane crash. The first time, he was on a grass strip, hit a bump, and the propeller nicked the ground. Props are so strong and planes are so light that it flipped the plane over. He walked away from that one with no damage.

The second time, he was landing on a sandbar, and I don’t remember exactly what happened, but his body sustained some annoying but easily survivable damage — like a broken ankle or something like that. He was also away from roads, so apparently it was a real pain to get him out, but he wasn’t badly hurt.

The third time, he ran out of gas just short of the runway, and had to land in the trees. While he didn’t break any bones, he was banged up pretty badly. I heard that he was able to walk to a road, flag down a driver, and get the driver to take him to a hospital. (Can you imagine being that driver? Having some bloody guy walk out of some trees to the road? Would you stop?) I heard that he lost so much blood that the doctors wouldn’t let him do anything high-altitude (including getting in a plane, even as a passenger) because he was low on hemoglobin. I heard that he had a head injury of some sort.

The best story that I can fabricate is that the head injury messed up his brain somehow, or that the steroids they fed him to help him heal messed up his brain chemistry…. because I just cannot imagine the Marc I knew killing himself.

So long, Marc — the world is a sadder, poorer place without you.


  • There is a more formal obit.
  • Keywords: Marc Alan Olson, Microsoft, funeral, death, suicide.

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