Kathryn Lucretia Silliman1,2

F, (19 June 1905 - 24 March 2002)
     Kathryn Lucretia Silliman was born on 19 June 1905 at Coonoor, India.2,3 She was the daughter of Edward Eugene Silliman and Susan Ida Kurtz.1 Kathryn Lucretia Silliman married, at age 23, Verner Israel Olson, age 27, son of Israel Olson and Sigrid Hafslund, on Tuesday, 11 June 1929 at Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.4 Kathryn Lucretia Silliman died on 24 March 2002 at Redlands, San Bernardino County, California, at age 96 years, 9 months and 5 days.2,3
     At age one and a half when ill with dysentery, her only sister, 3-month-old Mary, died of convulsions, but Kathryn survived. Named after two grandmothers, Catherine Miller Kurtz and Lucretia Powell Silliman, she lived in Narsaravupet, Guntur, India as a young child until age three and a half.

The next four years were spent in various places in the United States, first with her parents on furlough and then just with her mother who stayed behind to regain her health. It was in Florida in a little one-room schoolhouse that Kathryn attended first grade. It was also during this period that Kathryn received her first piano lessons from her Cousin Clara.

At age 7, Kathryn with her mother returned to India. She was sent to Hebron School for girls, a boarding school in Coonoor, attended by daughters of English government officials and business men, and daughters of American missionaries, where her favorite classes were Bible study and piano lessons. She went home to her parents only at school holidays and delighted in playing new hymns on the reed organ to please her father. At age nine and a half she was baptized by a Telegu pastor, the first missionary’s child to be baptized by an Indian pastor on the Telegu field.

In 1916, she was diagnosed with Bright's disease and sent home to the United States for treatment. She crossed the Pacific with her mother, where on board ship she planned her first program to celebrate her birthday, accompanying others on the piano singing songs from one of her father’s song books and putting on "The Mad Hatter's Tea Party" from Alice in Wonderland. After a successful operation to remove infected tonsil roots, she lived in San Diego until she was 14, first with her parents (her father had come home on furlough) and the last 6 months when she boarded with a maiden lady to finish her Freshman High School year.

To complete the last three years of high school, she was sent by train to the Fannie Doane Home for missionaries' children in Granville, Ohio. (Age 15 in the 1920 census living on Front Bridge Street at the American Fanny Doane Home for Missionaries’ Children in Granville, Ohio as a student.) During this time, she accompanied the High School Girls’ Glee Club, competed in oratorical contests, and edited the High School Quarterly. She also started taking piano lessons at the Conservatory, which she continued until her graduation from college. At this time she acquired the nickname of Pat, because people said they were sure she had an Irishman's sense of humor.

After high school, she attended the Doane Academy for one year taking music courses at the Conservatory and Dennison University for four years. She completed two majors, one in Latin and Greek to get an AB degree and one in music to graduate from the Conservatory, her favorite classes being English, history, and music. She accompanied the college Girls’ Glee Club and Community Chorus and was a member of a music sorority and poetry group. She was involved with intercollegiate debating and the student YWCA. As President of the YWCA her senior year, she was sent to Milwaukee, Lake Geneva, New York, and Sacramento, her first experience in speaking to an audience of over 1000. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, 13th in her class, and received a piano for graduation from her parents, recently retired from the mission field.

Although all of her friends were nearby and she had a prospective job at the First Baptist Church in Evanston, she decided to move to California with her parents where she assisted them in buying a house and furniture. In October of 1927, she secured a part time job with the First Baptist Church in San Diego writing Sunday school Bible lessons for the juniors and the junior high. Six months later, Verner Olson became assistant pastor at this church.

Since Kathryn wanted to teach Bible in College, she attended Northern Baptist Seminary in Chicago, where she taught New Testament Greek for one year to a class with 33 men, all older. It was here that she started dating Verner Olson, and they were married June 11, 1929.

Verner became pastor of the Fourth Baptist Church of Minneapolis in June 1929. Age 24 (self & father born Illinois, mother Pennsylvania) in 1930 census living at 1914 Morgan Ave, renting home for $45 a month, in Minneapolis, Minnesota with husband. Here their three daughters were born: Mary in 1930, Dorothy in 1932, and Ruthie in 1935. Soon after Ruthie’s birth, Kathryn started to play organ at church; she was also the President of American Baptist Women’s Union of Minneapolis 1935-1937.

In 1938, Verner accepted a call to the Clinton Hill Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. Ruthie died in May 1938 of pneumonia right before they were to depart. At this church too, Kathryn played organ and in addition directed the children’s choir. She became an associate member of the American Women's Foreign Mission Board and met Dr. Ida Scudder, who was the founder of the Vellore Women's Hospital and Medical College. Her only son Robert was born in 1939.

In 1943, Verner was called to the Melrose Baptist Church in Oakland, California. She again played organ for Sunday services and the youth choir. She became active in the Woman’s Baptist Mission Society of Northern California. In 1948,the Olsons moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where Verner was called to the First Baptist Church. Kathryn began a Bible Class for young married people called the Homebuilders Class and spoke on current affairs as a regular radio panelist.

In 1953, Verner was called to the Calvary Baptist Church in Pasadena, where Kathryn again became the organist. She also was the teacher of the Builders’ Class. She became the Chairman of Spiritual Life for Southern California, a position held for five years. She was President of the Woman’s Baptist Mission Society of Southern California from 1960-1964.

In 1961, they moved to the First Baptist Church of San Fernando and in 1965 went to Leisure World to organize the First Baptist Church of Laguna Hills. Kathryn played the organ from the beginning and organized the choir. She started a weekly interdenominational Bible class and in the course of twenty-six years covered the whole Bible. She was the Vice President of the State Convention Board of American Baptist Churches for 1966-1967 and became the third women to be President of the Convention in 1968-1969. She was a member of Board for Atherton Baptist Homes from 1969 – 1991. Finally in 1972, both she and Verner retired.

Kathryn remained active in the church, starting a closed circuit television Bible class on Jesus for Leisure World and again becoming church organist in 1974. In 1977, the women of the Pacific Southwest Region sent her on a Mission Involvement Tour to the Telegu Mission in South India. Soon after her return in March, Verner died, but Kathryn still honored her many speaking engagements in 1977-78 on India.

In 1978, she was elected to a four-year term as Area Representative to the General Board of American Baptist Churches and to the Board of International Ministries. She served on the Board of Trustees of the First Baptist Church of Laguna Hills in the 1980s, becoming chairman of the Board in 1989. She also became a member of Chapter C of PEO in 1983.

As an adult, Kathryn traveled extensively: South America in 1960, Asia in 1970, the Holy Land in 1971, Scandinavia in 1972, and in 1973 a 4 1/2 month trailer trip around the United States and Canada. She attended college reunions in Granville and visited relatives in Williamsport, Pennsylvania with several trips to Bellingham, Washington to visit her oldest daughter Mary and her family. She traveled with her two good friends Stella Broham and Margaret MacDonald around the United States and Canada and even to Europe. In 1985 she took a Music Tour of Europe and again in 1987 she participated in Diane Bish’s "Joy of Music" tour to Germany.

In June of 1994, Kathryn moved to Plymouth Village in Redlands, where she remained active in the First Baptist Church and PEO. On 24 Mar 2002, she died of a stroke at the age of 96. She had lived to witness the marriage of her children Mary, Dorothy, and Bob; the birth and marriage of four grandsons: Dan & Padric Daugherty, Terry & Tim Wedel; the birth of a granddaughter Kim Wedel; and finally the birth / adoption of 7 great grandchildren. Her oldest daughter Mary died of a brain tumor in 1998 and her oldest grandson Dan died in an avalanche on Mr. Foraker in Alaska in 1987. Family was very important to her and she wanted to be remembered as "Loving Mother." She was laid to rest at Glen Abbey Memorial Park in Bonita, California next to her husband and her parents.5 According to the Social Security Administrations Death Index Kathryn's last known residence was Riverside, Riverside County, California.2

Children of Kathryn Lucretia Silliman and Verner Israel Olson

Last Edited=25 Feb 2005


  1. [S559] Carol (Taylor) Olson, "Report for the Descendants of Jacob F. Miller," supplied 25 February 2003 (6515 Marlo Way, Riverside, California 92506, USA; 951-788-4635). This report offers a full list of the primary and secondary sources consulted. p. 32.
  2. [S466] Social Security Death Index, RootsWeb online, at <http://ssdi.rootsweb.com> (Baltimore, Maryland: U.S. Social Security Administration, July 2004 update). The SSDI component of RootsWeb online is drawn from the Social Security Death Benefits Index of the U.S. Social Security Administration. KATHRYN S OLSON, birth listed as 19 Jun 1905, died listed as 24 Mar 2002 (V), issued in the State of California. Last residence Riverside, Riverside, CA, last benefit (none specified). Accessed 25 Feb 2005.
  3. [S559] Carol (Taylor) Olson, "Jacob F. Miller Descendants", p. 50, date and location of birth based on personal collection of Carol and Robert Olson.
  4. [S559] Carol (Taylor) Olson, "Jacob F. Miller Descendants", p. 53.
  5. [S559] Carol (Taylor) Olson, "Jacob F. Miller Descendants", pp. 50-52.