Cover photo for Larry Olsen's Obituary
Larry Olsen Profile Photo
1939 Larry 2018

Larry Olsen

January 23, 1939 — December 26, 2018

Larry Dean Olsen, 79, died December 26, 2018 in his home surrounded by family, at Miracle Hot Springs in Buhl, Idaho. He was born in Wendell, Idaho, on January 23, 1939, to parents Dean and Lola Olsen and grew up in Jerome, Idaho.

Larry is widely recognized as the father of modern primitive survival education and a pioneer of wilderness therapy and outdoor behavioral healthcare, which serve more than 10,000 youth and young adults each year. Larry is the author of the international bestseller “Outdoor Survival Skills”, which was first printed in 1967 and widely considered the classic definitive book on the subject.

In 1959 Larry married his high school sweetheart, Sherrel Lynn Eslinger of Jerome, Idaho in the Idaho Falls Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Together the couple raised four daughters and six sons. Their family has now grown to 39 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.

Early in life, Larry found the spark of a curious and adventurous spirit, qualities that remained and became a driving force behind his life’s work. His excitement and passion for living sustainably off the land and studying primitive living skills set in motion a lifetime of influence while fortifying a legacy of kindness, service and resourcefulness.

In addition to being a steward of the family business, Miracle Hot Springs, making it a Magic Valley must-visit, he made his mark on the world by teaching and writing about primitive living and survival. Outdoor survival was both a philosophy and a lifestyle for Larry, and one he embraced in raising his own family, teaching students and Scouts, and even consulting in Hollywood with the film Jeremiah Johnson.

Most enduring, perhaps, is the lasting link Larry discovered as he brought the lessons of outdoor survival and applied them to the struggles of adolescents and young adults. He co-founded the Anasazi Foundation, a non-profit wilderness therapy program based out of Mesa, Arizona. Countless lives have been and will be forever changed by the life and example of Larry D. Olsen. There was a place in his heart for everyone, without judgement.

He is survived by sisters EiIeen Wilson and Lucy Irwin, his wife Sherrel, and children Farah (Brent) Hosman, Jane, Lorinda, Udaya, Reuben (Pilar), Nathan (Laura), Enoch (Elizabeth), Joshua (Rebekah), Amber (Dave), Luke (Delia). He is preceded in death by his parents Dean and Lola, sister Marnetta, and recently his grandson Porter.

In lieu of flowers please make donations to the Larry Dean Olsen Memorial Scholarship Fund at ANASAZI Foundation: go to—click on the “donate” button—in the Additional Information space designate the donation to be in Larry’s name. Memories and condolences may be left for the family on Larry’s memorial webpage at

A funeral service will be held Saturday, January 5, 2019, 12:00PM, at the Filer LDS Stake Center, 840 W. Midway, Filer, Idaho with viewing one hour prior to service.

Funeral Service

Saturday, January 05, 2019
12:00 PM

Filer Stake LDS Church
841 Midway St
Filer, Idaho 83328

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Larry Olsen, please visit our flower store.


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