REXBURG — To say Ryan Olson was a fan of ‘Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day’ by Luke Bryan is an understatement.
The 37-year-old belted the song from the top of his lungs nearly every day and lived the literal meaning of the lyrics by spending as much time as possible hunting and fishing in Idaho’s outdoors.
“He loved country music but Luke Bryan’s hunting and fishing song – it tells Ryan’s story about what kind of guy he was,” says Caralyn Olson, Ryan’s mother. “Anybody that knew Ryan knew you didn’t shake his hand – you had to hug him. He was the biggest hugger ever and everyone knows him for his hugs.”
Ryan Olson had three children and was the Vice President of Sales for Caliber Smart in Rexburg. He was less than a minute from work on May 17 when a woman in another vehicle reportedly experienced a diabetic health issue and slammed into Olson’s vehicle. The collision sent him into a canal and he died instantly. Three other vehicles were hit and the accident remains under investigation.
Olson’s wife, Kim Olson, also works at Caliber and was in the office waiting for her husband to arrive when the crash happened.
“It was so preventable,” Kim Olson tells EastIdahoNews.com. “I don’t think Ryan would be mad at anyone but his death is a reminder for everyone to take care of yourself and be more aware of your health, distractions in the car and just pay attention.”
A Celebration of Life service was held for Olson at Caliber with 500 people attending in person and 300 virtually. The Hillcrest High School graduate was remembered for his athletic skills, positive influence and the ability he had to make friends with everyone he met.
“This kid could talk to anybody. Everybody thought he was their best friend,” Caralyn Olson recalls. “He went to see a doctor in Rigby once and by the time the appointment was done, they were best friends and they ended up being hunting buddies. That was just who Ryan was. He hunted and fished everywhere – Alaska, Canada, Oregon, the Arctic, and Africa. He just loved it.”
Since his death, Ryan Olson’s family members and friends have worn bracelets with the phrase “Live Like Ryan, Love Like Ryan” and some have had his name tattooed on their arms and legs. They’ve taken comfort in another Luke Bryan song called ‘Drink a Beer’ that describes the feelings many have after the death of a loved one.
When I got the news today
I didn’t know what to say
So I just hung up the phone
I took a walk to clear my head
This is where the walking lead
Can’t believe you’re really gone
Don’t feel like going home
So I’m gonna sit right here
On the edge of this pier
Then watch the sunset disappear
And drink a beer
“We are working on finding purpose in the pain by hoping to make other people live and love bigger. That’s all we can do,” Kim Olson says. “Life is so short. We never thought it would happen to us so we want to remind people to love big – as big as you can.”
As his family began thinking about how to celebrate Ryan Olson’s first birthday without him, they discovered Bryan is scheduled to perform in Las Vegas on Feb. 26, 2022 – the day Olson would be turning 38. They knew it was a sign and so far, around 40 family members and friends have purchased tickets for the concert.
“The concert happened to fall on his birthday and it’s really given us something to look forward to,” Kim Olson says. “His kids ask every day when the concert is and we can’t wait to celebrate him.”
The Olsons hope to honor their “larger than life” husband, son, brother and friend who made a difference, touched others and spent his life huntin’, fishin’ and lovin’ every day.
“He has such an influence in so many people’s lives,” Caralyn Olson says. “He lived so much in his 37 years and was taken too soon. Because of his legacy, we all want to #LIVELIKERYAN.”