Olga Salowich Bennett (1925-2020)
A civic activist, a humanitarian, and a global ambassador who enriched the lives of many peacefully passed away in her home on January 17, 2020. A most remarkable woman who lived life to the fullest and on her own terms. Olga Bennett was insatiably curious throughout her life, a champion of the arts, passionate about political affairs and an incessant learner.
Born June 30, 1925 in Detroit, Michigan to Nicholas Salowich and Maria Mikuliak, Olga was the oldest of three children. She had two brothers Nicholas Salowich Jr. and Sasha De Britain.
As a young girl she studied the piano at the Detroit Conservatory of Music. She went on to attend the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and after several years in Ann Arbor Olga transferred to the Parsons School of Design in New York City where she studied graphic arts and advertising. After graduating from Parsons, she later completed a Bachelor of Science Degree from New York University.
While studying and working in New York City, Olga met Robert William Bennett, a native New Yorker and a chemical engineer. In 1947 they married and soon after they began their global travels together and lived in England, Venezuela, Spain, Japan, Brazil, Morocco and Puerto Rico.
Olga’s travels abroad spanned fifty years and included living in six countries, moving households thirty seven times and learning to speak six languages including Russian, Japanese, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Throughout her life she welcomed and hosted international visitors and artists into her home with warmth and graciousness.
While living in Japan, Olga received a certificate in Japanese flower arranging (Ikebana) from one of the great masters of the art. She also studied Japanese brush painting (Sumi-e) and was an English instructor at Narzan University in Nagoya, Japan. During her time in Japan Olga helped many families transferred to Japan to adapt and navigate the vast cultural differences that existed in order to help everyone successfully adjust.
Following her years in Japan, Olga moved to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil where she experienced some of the most treasured memories of her life. While there, she met painters, writers and musicians that became friends for life. After spending five years in Rio de Janeiro, she and her family moved to Safi, Morocco in North Africa where they were the only English speaking family in the town. While in Morocco, Olga Bennett became an aide to the US Honorary Consul General of Morocco and worked to encourage positive cultural exchanges between the two countries.
After returning to live in the United States, Olga became actively involved in the Foreign Policy Association and the United Nations Association. She established new Great Decision study groups in Florida, New Jersey and Texas. While living in Miami, Florida, Olga was a docent at the Vizcaya Museum of Art, the Bass Museum of Art, and Director of Docents at the Center of Fine Arts. Olga loved people and throughout her life she cultivated many rich and lasting friendships.
Olga was a lifetime member of the League of Women Voters, a member of the American Association of University Women, the United Nations Association, the Foreign Policy Association, a member of the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors, an honorary member of Hadassah and included in Who’s Who in American Women.
For her work encouraging global engagement and dialogue among people, Olga Bennett was honored in 2015 in New York City at the national headquarters of the Foreign Policy Association and received a Distinguished Service award. That same year she was honored by a proclamation from the Mayor of Houston naming September 26th as Olga Bennett Day for her work advancing the education of senior citizens throughout her community and the Great Decisions group.
Olga Bennett will be deeply missed by her daughter Susan Bennett, her other daughter Cynthia Johnson, her beloved “little sister” Margie Salowich, her wonderful nieces, nephews, her many friends and her most cherished “grand-dog” Bacchus.
“The sweetest flower that grows, I give to you as we part.
For you it is a rose. For me it is my heart”