The Key Center Corral is host to many diverse businesses that participate in and contribute to community events. Dr. John Olsson, Key Peninsula resident and local dentist, owns one of those businesses. Although he is known for his participation in the Christmas Tree Lighting since 1985, he would rather be acknowledged for other feats, like being a dedicated husband, father, and Christian.
Olsson was born in Norwalk, Conn. He ventured west at age 17 to attend an undergraduate school. He then enlisted in the Army for three years, following a family tradition (his father was an engineer for the Naval Reserve), and enrolled in the dentistry program while living and working at the Fort Lewis Air Force Base. He graduated from the University of Washington’s dental school in 1980.
Olsson remained in practice at Fort Lewis after he and his wife, Jean, (a Washington native), moved to Gig Harbor. After a while, the long work commute became tedious, and Dr. Olsson decided he would prefer to work in a smaller community, closer to home. While exploring the outskirts of Gig Harbor, he discovered the rustic, Western-themed Key Center Corral and immediately fell in love with the area, deciding to become a rural dentist. Unfortunately, another dentist had beaten him to it and already had his practice in Key Center — so Olsson continued to work at Fort Lewis until his prayers were answered by an ironic and fortunate decision from the existing Key Center dentist to close his “small town” practice. So he moved out and Dr. Olsson moved in.
“I’ve always dreamed of working in a small town. I wanted to be in a place where everyone knew each other and out here, everybody knows your name,” Olsson says. He smiles and asks with a chuckle, “You know, like the TV show ‘Cheers’?”
Besides dentistry, Olsson’s primary interest is to glorify God, and then his wife — in that order. He teaches Bible study. One of his favorite verses, which he refers to as his “life-verse,” is Romans 6:11. Olsson describes the verse by saying, “I try not to let sin rule me but let God rule me. Each day I wake up and ask, ‘What can I do for Him today?’ as I begin my day.”
God answered him by planting the idea to begin adopting children, Olsson says. He and his wife already had four daughters of their own, but they thought, “Maybe God wants us to adopt a boy.”
Soon after, the couple began discussing the adoption idea with other members of their church. They started searching online and gathering information about different orphanages.
“My wife is a very driven woman. She really kept on the adoption road,” he says, describing their process of looking for a child as “God engineered.”
The Olssons saw a photo online of a girl from a Russian orphanage who reminded them of their oldest daughter, and fell in love with her. Having to fire their adoption agency, which turned out unscrupulous, they traveled to Russia themselves.
They visited three different orphanages to locate the 9-year-old girl, Dasha (who is now 15 and named Jordan). In the process, they also unintentionally “picked out” two other children, 2-year-old Jenya (now named Johnny, age 8) and 16-month-old Efiam (now named Joshua, age 7), which made a grand total of seven children.
John Olsson beams like only a proud father can as he describes each child’s personality and unique traits. He is also glad to admit how well each child has settled into their family and how happy he and his wife are about their decision to go to Russia. But, as he put it earlier, it was all God engineered.