Helping Families and Friends Honor Their Loved One
Louise (Olszewski) Carlson

Louise (Olszewski) Carlson

Dunkirk native Louise (Olszewski) Carlson, 95, who was sharp as a tack and had a mind like a steel trap, slipped away peacefully the morning of Friday, April 21, 2023, surrounded by her loving family at Brooks Memorial Hospital.

Affectionately nicknamed “Gigi” when she became a great-grandmother in 2012, Louise was born in Dunkirk on Oct. 5, 1927, to Bernard Olszewski (d. 1928) and Elizabeth (Glowski) Manista (d. 2001).

Louise barely knew her chiropractor father before he died in a tragic railroad accident in 1928 while moonlighting as an investigator. His only child, Louise was 14 months old when he passed. His widow took baby Louise to live with her Polish-speaking grandparents and extended family on Ermine Street and she later lived briefly in Buffalo with her mother and stepfather.

A student at St. Hyacinth’s Roman Catholic School, Louise was a member of Dunkirk High School’s Class of 1945 and she married classmate Lloyd G. Carlson on April 29, 1950, at St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo. Together they built a home in Dunkirk’s Fourth Ward, where they raised four children: Randy, Beth, Bill, and Kevin.

Although primarily a homemaker, Louise worked for several years as a key punch operator for New York Central Railroad at the Buffalo Central Terminal. She was a secretary for the Passionist priests of Holy Cross Seminary and the Sheltered Workshop as well as at Dunkirk Airport. She worked as a jewelry clerk for Ames department store and a substitute teacher aide at Dunkirk Middle School. She babysat children of family and friends and assisted at polling stations on Election Days. She spent a decade as her mother’s primary caregiver until her death in 2001.

A devout Catholic, Louise was a parishioner of St. Hyacinth’s, and later was a parishioner of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church with her family, where they were heavily involved in church and school activities. After unsuccessfully advocating for saving Sacred Heart, she became a member of St. Hedwig’s (now Our Blessed Mary Angela Parish) and joined the Holy Rosary and Ladies’ societies.

Family meant everything to Louise. She was a faithful wife, a caring and supportive mother, a wonderful homemaker, and in her younger years loved to entertain family, friends, and her card club. Sunday dinners prepared by Louise were eagerly anticipated. Summers were spent camping with family at state parks and Chautauqua Lake. Following her husband’s death in 1994, Louise enjoyed trips to many interesting sites and casinos with the Dunkirk Senior Center. She was a diehard fan of the Buffalo Bills and Notre Dame football teams. Louise appreciated a piping-hot cup of tea, fresh fruit, and a good fish fry. She was a “Jeopardy!” champ, especially in the historical categories. She watched a variety of television programs and kept current on trends and events. Louise impressed everyone with her remarkable memory.

Declining mobility, the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the devastating loss of her beloved son, Bill, in September 2020 took a toll on her health. Louise became housebound, depending primarily on dear daughter Bethany, special “daughter-in-law” Leslie Long of Dunkirk, who was Bill’s fiancee, cherished granddaughter-in-law Erica Carlson and other close family members for day-to-day care and companionship.

A gifted and tireless storyteller, Louise frequently regaled us with tales of yesteryear, vividly recalling people, places, and events from long ago until, one day in March 2023, she suddenly couldn’t. Despite rapid-onset delusions, she was able to remember those close to her until Easter Sunday 2023.

Louise’s family fondly remembers our beloved matriarch with every pierogi and slice of Little Caesar’s deep-dish pizza we taste, every piece of Publisher’s Clearing House junk mail we touch, every Ricola cough drop we smell, every polka we hear, and every rerun of “The Big Bang Theory” we watch. We’ve already seen her spirit in a bright-red cardinal, a rainbow, and a shooting star.

Louise is survived by son Randall Carlson of Dunkirk, daughter Bethany (Dr. Lawrence) Maheady of Fredonia, and son Kevin (Mary O’Connell) Carlson of Fredonia. Also survived by grandchildren Jason (Erica Hammond) Carlson, Joshua (Samantha Eggert) Maheady and Connor (Jessica Nichols) Maheady; Malinda (Phil) Wolf, Shane (Kristy McFarland) Carlson and Chad Carlson; Keith (Sarah Baker) Carlson, Tyler Carlson, and Jeff Carlson; and great-grandsons Holden Carlson, Charles Wolf, Jackson Wolf, Wyatt Carlson, and Colt Carlson. Sister-in-law Marjorie (Frantzen) Carlson, several cousins, nieces, and nephews also survive.

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, step-father Frank Manista, and son William Carlson, formerly of Fredonia. Louise’s loved ones take great comfort in imagining them all together in heaven.

The family extends gratitude beyond measure to Dr. Anthony Bartholomew, Father Stephen Soares, the nurses, doctors, and staff of Brooks Memorial Hospital, and Absolut Care of Westfield for their compassion, kindness, and loving care. There is no thank-you big enough for everything they did for us and our Gigi.

No prior visitation. A private mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at Our Blessed Mary Angela Parish at the family’s discretion. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or a charity of your choice. Arrangements by McGraw-Kowal Funeral Home.

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