It has been confirmed that Olga Woltering was one of the five people killed Friday in the terrifying Ft. Lauderdale airport shooting by alleged gunman Esteban Santiago, 26.
Woltering was an 84-year-old wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and a devoted parishioner at her Catholic church. Although she had been an American citizen for decades, she was originally from England and was known for her lovely British accent.
“Olga was one of the most joyful, loving, caring, and committed people I have ever met.”
Remembered as both loving and well-loved, Woltering was married to her husband, Ralph, for 64 years and was traveling with him to Florida to depart on a cruise. Tragically, the couple had altered their travel arrangements and arrived in Florida a day early due to a predicted ice storm in their home state of Georgia. Olga’s husband was physically unharmed during the shooting.
The news of her death was confirmed on her church’s website, the Transfiguration Catholic Church of Marietta, Georgia. She had been a member there for almost 40 years. The parish posted a touching tribute, featuring a photograph of the Wolterings holding their young children — joy exuding from their faces.
According to the church site, Fr. Fernando Molina-Restrepo said, “Olga was one of the most joyful, loving, caring, and committed people I have ever met. This is a horrible tragedy for everyone here at Transfiguration, especially because Olga was so loved. Olga and Ralph have been members of our Transfiguration Family since October 1978. May God give consolation to all of the victims of this tragedy and may God give eternal rest to those who died. Especially to our beloved Olga. Peace.”
Although her life ended in a shocking and violent manner, it is bittersweet to see the life of a dear woman, so beautifully remembered for her devotion to family and faith, end. In their time of mourning, may Olga Woltering’s friends and family find hope in the legacy that this devoted individual leaves behind and the eternal life she now is living.
There is a lesson to be learned in remembering Olga Woltering. Life is best lived when it is spent loving. The service and dedication of a person extends long after the person’s physical death. It is the impact that one has on others that is enduring. Olga Woltering is not remembered for the clothes she wore, or the house she lived in, or the places she traveled to. Instead, people recall her faithfulness to her church and its ministries. They talk about her love for her family. They look back on her exuberance, kindness, and joy.
It is a tragedy to have a woman who lived so well be killed so needlessly. However, there is hope that her life was not wasted. It is motivating to remember how brief life is — and how imperative it is to spend each day with the intention to live well.
Katie Nations, married for 15 years, is a working mother of three young children. She lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.