January 22, 2017
Hall of Famer Gene Olaff passes away
National Soccer Hall of Famer and former international goalkeeper Gene Olaff passed away Tuesday night.
He was 96.
The son of a Swedish postal worker and Scottish mother, Olaff's early adulthood was a balancing act between his passion for soccer and serving his country.
Born in 1920, Olaff rose through the ranks of New York area semipro soccer teams, until he was signed by Brooklyn Hispano at the start of the 1941-42 American Soccer League season. With Brooklyn Hispano, he made his mark on the soccer world, winning the ASL championship in 1943 and Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cups in 1943 and 1944, all while serving in the U.S. Navy.
Olaff recorded one cap with the national team in a 4-0 defeat to Scotland June 19, 1949. He also played in an unofficial game for the UUSA in 1948 against Israel. His international appearances, however did not tell the entire story as the USA did not play any game between 1937 and 1947 due to World War II. He could have been a member of the U.S. team at the 1950 World Cup but was forced to decline the invitation in order to prioritize his career as a policeman.
Olaff retired as a player in 1953 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971. He later became the commander of the New Jersey State Police in 1975 and served as the dean of the Hall until his passing.
He is survived by his sister, Adele Burke of Merrimack, Mass.; son, Gene Olaff of Burlington Township; daughter-in-law, Pamela Olaff of Manchester - who was his strong and loving right hand for many years; his grandchildren and spouses, Gary Olaff (Monica), Dennis Olaff (Christine), Tanya Neylan (Mike), Heather Souder (Gary), all of Florence, and Denise Arizarry (Steve) of Bordentown. He also is survived by his 11 great-grandchildren, Lacey and Jordan Olaff, Hannah and Ryan Olaff, Andrew McGough, Samuel Souder, Jacob and Madison Neylan, Christian Bulow, and Jonathan and Olivia Arizzary.
The funeral will be held Monday, Jan. 23 at 11 a.m. at the Dennison Funeral Home, 214 W. Front St., Florence, N.J. where relatives and friends may call from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday evening, and from 10 a.m. until the time of service, Monday morning. Masonic services will begin at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Interment will be in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, Burlington, N.J..
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Florence United Methodist Church, 209 Broad Street, Florence, N.J. 08518.
To offer condolences to the family, visit the funeral home's website at www.dennisonfh.com.