All her life, Olga Mullins has had a wonderful ability to forge friendships. An outgoing woman with a kind smile and traces of the Old South in her soft voice, she’s consistently enjoyed a wide circle of close confidants and admirers. “She always made friends easily,” says her son Mike Mullins. “ She always had an easy laugh and a good sense of humor. She was friendly to everyone. She kept in close touch with her friends from high school for much of her life, and she made a lot of new friends along the way.” Olga was raised in the waterfront city of Norfolk on Virginia’s southeast coast, and she would spend much of the rest of her life close to water. Born in 1928, Olga Tholke had two sisters and two brothers. Due perhaps to the hard work of Olga’s father, a carpenter, and the enormous U.S. Navy base that sustained Norfolk’s economy, the family avoided hardships and forged a solidly middle-class existence during the years of the Depression. Olga played the violin as a child, attended Norfolk’s Granby High School as a teenager and graduated with her schoolmates in the immediate post-war “Class of 1946.”
Olga got a job straight out of high school at Capitol Airways, later Capitol International Airlines, a company launched the same year she graduated. She handled office work for Capitol and lived in New Jersey. Later she moved to New York City, where she did administrative work for Coca-Cola full-time and worked as a fashion model part time. She would spend several years in the New York City metropolitan area before returning home to her family and old friends in Norfolk. After she returned to Virginia, Olga was introduced by a friend to U.S. Navy Chief Warrant Officer Melvis Mullins, alternately known to his friends as either “Mel” or “Moon.” Olga and Moon wed in 1958, welcoming the arrival of their only child, Mike, the following year. Olga remained at home raising their son, and Moon retired from the Navy to purchase a service station in Norfolk. On the side, he opened a game bird farm in Chesapeake, Va.
In 1969, the family moved to Oviedo, Fla., a short distance northeast of Orlando, to purchase a marina on Lake Jesup, on the St. John River chain of lakes. The marina’s operation proved very much a family affair. Olga and Moon ran the marina, while Mike swabbed the boats and peddled bait to customers. Olga and Moon built friendships with many of the people they served, most of them becoming the Mullins’ repeat customers. The Mullins’ owned and operated the marina about 10 years before selling the business. Moon then worked part-time as a commercial fisherman. Olga landed a job as a telephone operator at the University of Central Florida near their home, working there for at least a decade. Following Moon’s death in 1990, Olga lived alone a few years, before she followed Mike to the Chicago area, where he was working as an engineer and manager for Motorola Corporation. She bought a condominium in suburban Palatine, to be close to her two granddaughters in nearby Kildeer. Today, as a Lutheran Home resident, she continues to enjoy visits with family and friends, showcasing the same magnetism she first displayed some 90 years ago on the shores of Norfolk’s Elizabeth River.