|Lute and Bobbi Olson, wave to fans while leaving the court after the Wildcats won the NCAA National Championship, March 31, 1997, in Indianapolis. (AP/Arizona Daily Star, David Sanders)|
Mrs. Olson, the former Roberta Rae Russell, was the wife of Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson. The couple had been married 47 years and have five children and 14 grandchildren.
"Bobbi faced her illness with great courage," said Lute Olson. "Her love of family remained her priority and even in her last moments she continued taking care of and comforting all of us as only a wife and mother can do.
"She died today, 01/01/01 -- number one wife, number one mother , number one grandmother -- always number one," Olson said.
A private service will be held, and a public memorial service will be scheduled at a later date at the University of Arizona.
|Bobbi sits in her favorite chair in the living room of their home. (David Sanders)|
Coach Olson said the family "extends its sincere thanks and gratitude to the Tucson community for respecting the family's privacy" throughout Mrs. Olson's illness.
The Olson family further expressed its thanks to the medical specialists who cared for her at the Arizona Cancer Center and University Medical Center, with special note to Dr. David Alberts, Dr. Hank Hallum and nurse Ardie Delforge.
Olson had announced Saturday that he was taking a leave of absence from some coaching duties to spend time with Bobbi and his family. He missed the team's game that day, and has not indicated any immediate plans.
Arizona players learned of Mrs. Olson's passing late Monday morning, and the team's scheduled practice was canceled by associate head coach Jim Rosborough.
|Bobbi shares a quiet moment with her dog Mr. Mu. (David Sanders)|
University President Peter Likins said, "This is an incalculable loss for all of us because Bobbi has meant so much to the heart of our community. (My wife) Patty and I identify personally with Lute and Bobbi Olson because we both know what it is like to come together as couples in our youth and struggle with the hard times before we come to the good times. So we understand the special bonds that develop with this history, and we think we understand what this means to Lute."
Mrs. Olson is survived by her husband, Lute; daughters Vicki Olson-Price (Gary), Jody Brase (Jon) and Christi Snyder, all of Tucson; sons Greg (Stacy) of Tucson and Steve of Los Angeles; her father, John Russell and her sisters Yvonne Gragson (Ken) and Linda Coyner of Las Vegas; and her grandchildren Katie and Kellie Wulfsberg, Lisa Price, Julie and Matthew Brase; Maggie, CJ, Jamie, Jordyn and Bobby Olson; and Jimmy, Andrew, Michelle and Alex Snyder; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.