Family was everything to Ethel J. Olson, her daughter, Judith A. Comfort, said. Described as the matriarch, she made sure her family came together often, and she enjoyed cooking and taking care of them. She also made sure they were covered in afghans, crocheting hundreds, her daughter estimated. “I think everybody we knew had a half a dozen or so,” she said.
Mrs. Olson died on Friday at Southampton Hospital after being hospitalized for a week with heart and lung problems, though she had been in good health until recently, her family said. She was 94.
Mrs. Olson, who spent weekends as a youngster in Maidstone Park, East Hampton, where her father built a house in the 1930s, lived with her daughter on Ayrshire Place in that area for the past 15 years.
She was born in Queens on Jan. 9, 1920, to Caesar Theodore Selberg and the former Mary Hannah Wood. After high school she went on to secretarial school.
In East Hampton, she met her future husband, Rune Olson, who lived in Montauk. The couple were married in 1943 and lived in Massapequa Park and then East Meadow, where they eventually bought a flower shop, Flowers by Prague.
Mr. Olson was a plumber by trade, but Mrs. Olson had worked in the floral industry years before. “She knew everything in the business,” her daughter said. The Olsons owned the shop about a year before Mr. Olson died, in 1975, at the age of 55.
Mrs. Olson continued to run the flower shop with her son, Robert R. Olson, until about 1988. She then moved with her son and his family to Hawley, Pa., an area in which Mrs. Olson’s family had owned land for 100 years, including a main house that was built in the early 1800s and sits in front of the historic Delaware and Hudson Canal. The Wayne County Historical Society purchased the homestead in 2001 with plans to restore it as a living museum, according to the society’s website.
In 1997, Mrs. Olson’s son, who was 49, died in his sleep, a devastating loss, Ms. Comfort said. Mrs. Olson moved to East Hampton soon after.
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by three grandchildren, James Taber of East Hampton, Christopher Olson of Hawley, and Tanum Olson of Scranton, Pa. She leaves four great-grandchildren and one niece.
Mrs. Olson belonged to the Eastern Star, a fraternal organization that accepts both men and women.
A service was held on Monday at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton. Burial followed at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in East Hampton.
Memorial donations have been suggested to the Springs Fire Department Ambulance Corps, 179 Fort Pond Boulevard, East Hampton 11937.