OLGA MARIA GILLILAND
OLGA MARIA GILLILAND passed away peacefully at her Maunawili home early Monday morning March 9. Born in 1931 in Averbode, Belgium, Olga was the 4th of 6 children to Raymond and Elisabeth Scharpe Vanderborght. Olga was raised in the Flanders region of North Belgium and Brussels. Her family was bilingual, mainly speaking Flemish at home and living within a blended Flemish and French community. This Belgian heritage served Olga well throughout her life, and she loved sharing Flemish and French culture with many in the islands and afar. After WW II hardships, Olga's family sailed to America in 1951 and were part of the wave of immigrants passing through Ellis Island to resettle in America. The family settled in Minnesota, where Olga first worked at Dayton's Dept. store and then became a TWA "Hostess". While visiting the islands, Olga met Mervin Francis Gilliland on a blind date. They quickly became engaged and married in 1957. Merv and Olga truly enjoyed their 55 years together in Hawai'i nei, raising a family as strong loving parents, having fulfilling careers, hosting parties for family, friends and visitors from afar, and regularly travelling to Europe and other destinations. Olga, always proud of her Belgian heritage, loved to share her homeland cultures and languages through food and music. She was known for her delicious Speculaas cookies, Lililkoi butter and jellies and rousing choruses of the French songs "Allouette" and "Dominique". Olga's teaching career began in the early 60's, first as a French teacher at Hanahauoli School and then at Le Jardin d'Enfants (now Le Jardin Academy) in Kailua where she taught until she retired in 1990. Starting as a Pre-school teacher, she later became "Madame Gilliland", the French Instructor for the lower grades, where Olga masterfully integrated music and French language on her beloved Martin ukulele. Madame Gilliland also founded and directed the Le Jardin Children's French Choir, which performed around Oahu and did tours and performances in Belgium and France, as well as the 1976 Bicentennial Celebrations in New York and Washington D.C. Olga was predeceased by her loving Husband Mervin and son Mark. She is survived by her Sister Godelieve of Tervuren, Belgium, son Guy, daughter Elizabeth (Jess) Snow, grandchildren Michele Pauahi, Marcus Aukai, Marin Lahilahi Gilliland and Annie `Ilikea and Ryder La`akea Snow. When the situation allows, our family will post a future announcement of Olga's Services to be held at St. Anthony's Church on the Windward side. If you would like to honor Olga's life by making a donation in her name, please consider these 3 suggestions: Le Jardin Academy, Windward Senior Day Care Center, and St. Francis Hospice Program. Information for each can be found on-line.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased