Dea Marie Jonas Oleson

Honored by:Ronald L. Oleson
Brick location:D:25  map

Dea Marie Jonas Oleson was born in Chicago, Illinois. She was the first generation of her family to attend college and to graduate. Of course, her choice was to attend Iowa State University, where after a change of majors from interior design to landscape architecture she graduated in 1969. That was also the year we were married. With employment opportunities in California, we settled in Los Angeles in 1970. This is where our son was born.

For the next five years, Dea volunteered at our church and also finished college work on a second BA in urban studies at California State University Northridge.

In 1975 we moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin. That was the year she joined the League of Women Voters and became land use chair. Over the last twenty years, Dea has served three different terms as president of the local League of Women Voters and a term as secretary and as voter service chair. Dea continues to serve on voter service, helping to produce forums to educate voters. Also each year she coordinates a fund-raiser for the local League. Although she wanted to return to the job market in the late 1970's, La Crosse did not offer many opportunities.

In 1978 she was employed by La Crosse County to implement the Farmland Preservation program. Dea wrote the county plan and zoning ordinance and helped in 1980 to have the program passed by the La Crosse County Board. She then worked as a consultant for a planning firm and mapped two additional counties for the Farmland Preservation Program. In 1982, in order to broaden her job skills, she enrolled in the Mechanical Design Program at Western Wisconsin Technical College.

After graduating in 1984, Dea was hired by La Crosse Plumbing Supply to design HVAC plans and irrigation plans. She was the first woman employed by the firm to work in commercial sales with mechanical contractors. From this beginning, she quickly moved to commercial quotation work in both plumbing and heating. In 1993, a local chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute began in La Crosse, and Dea was a charter member. In 1994 she became the first woman president and began their certification process.

I am honoring Dea with this brick because she always followed me wherever I went and has always found a way to succeed in spite of what appeared to be limited opportunities.