Well-Lived Life Remembered in Grants Pass

March 09, 2015 | Jennifer Burkes

Remembering Olive Watson

A few short weeks after turning 106 years old, Olive Watson went to her rest in Jesus on Feb. 10, 2015. She was joyfully remembered by friends and family at the Grants Pass (Ore.) Church a few days later. She was remembered for her spunk. She was the one helping with Meals on Wheels, serving meals to people who were sometimes decades younger. Olive was the one who rode her bike well into her 90s. She was also remembered for her loving, willing and helpful nature. A story was shared of Olive’s work in the mission field, where she happily accepted an offer to share stories with children in Russia. She was the one who taught Sabbath school lessons and NEWSTART classes at home, until she was physically unable to continue. Above all, Olive was remembered as a woman who loved Jesus, who shared Him every chance she could.      

Olive Riggins was born Jan. 4, 1909, in a sod house in Oklahoma’s panhandle. She was the middle of nine children and said she was “always an Adventist.” As far back as Olive could remember the family did attend an Adventist church. Olive’s father, who was raised Baptist, became convicted of the seventh-day Sabbath after reading the Great Controversy as a teenager. Her mother, raised Methodist, wanted the children to attend a church. Olive’s mother challenged her husband to prove the seventh-day Sabbath by the Bible, saying the family would worship in a church that observed the true Sabbath. Olive was baptized in the Adventist church at 9 years old.

Olive and her family found their way to Milwaukie, Ore., where she graduated high school in 1929. She had aspired to teach but instead became a registered nurse during the Great Depression. She continued in the field for more 50 years. Olive was 29 when she met 21 year old Bill Watson. After six years of friendship, they were married on March 30, 1944. They lived in California for many years, where Olive continued her nursing career and Bill served in the Marines as a radio operator during World War II. Retirement brought the couple to Cave Junction, Ore., and then to Grants Pass.

In the 1950s, Olive and Bill adopted two children. Their daughter, Judi Highland now lives in Maui, Hawaii, and their son, Ken, lives in Sacramento, Calif. Ken was recently interviewed by the Grants Pass Daily Courier and fondly described his mother as “opinionated," a “trendsetter” and “a dynamo.” Most of all, Olive never gave up hope that Jesus was coming and she would be ready for Him.