Hilding Matthews Olson

December 14, 1923 ~ September 20, 2021 (age 97)


Hilding Matthews Olson Jr. was born December 14, 1923, and transitioned from this life to the beyond on September 20, 2021.

Surviving are his beloved wife of 37 years, Dorothy Ellenberg Olson of Burlington, his daughter, Barbara Olson Patchen (Kenton) of Genoa, NY, and his son, Richard Hilding Olson (Elizabeth) of Fleetwood PA, two grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, three step-children and their families, and several nieces and nephews.  He was predeceased by his brothers Dr. C. Raymond Olson and Dr. Kenneth N. Olson and his former wife, Nancy Lou Kreicker Olson.

Hilding was the eldest of three sons of the late Hilding Mathias Olson and Martha Rosengren Olson.  His early life was in Crystal Lake, Illinois, where he was the valedictorian of his high school class.  After serving three years in the US Army at the end of WWII, he graduated from Northwestern University in 1948.  He earned his Master’s from Stevens Institute and his doctorate in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University.

Hilding’s career as an electrical engineer took him from RCA to research at Bell Laboratories where he worked on projects such as guidance systems for the Minuteman rocket, repeaters for the trans-Atlantic telephone cable, the picturephone (a predecessor of today’s cellphone), and improving microwave magnetrons for communication satellites.  He was granted several patents and the Bell Laboratories Achievement Award for his accomplishments.

In his free time, Hilding enjoyed playing his violin with various orchestras in southeastern Pennsylvania.  He tackled many landscape gardening projects and used his masonry skills to construct brick walls and patios, and various stone features.  He was a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Rhododendron Society, MENSA, and was a Master Gardener.

A celebration of Hilding’s life will be held in Elon Community Church at 2:00 on Sunday, October 3rd.  His body has been donated to Wake Forest Medical School for scientific research.  In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Heifer International (, or a charity of your choice.

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