OliveAnn Davis Slotta is survived by her husband Jim, her children Lizann, Jim, and Jon (Mary), her foster daughter Karen, her grandchildren Emily, Lucy, Safia, and Julien, and a host of friends and colleagues.


She was born Olive Anna Davis in Warren, Ohio on January 5, 1942 to William Z. Davis and Olive V. Schink. Raised in Niles, Ohio, she learned to twirl the baton and joined the majorettes. She learned to dance, and spent her summers in progressively advanced schools, dreaming of Broadway. But she instead headed off to Hiram College where she majored in Philosophy and Religion, minored in Mathematics, met her very lucky husband Jim, fell in love, married, and started her family.


Throughout her life, OliveAnn was passionate about community and education. She loved people – especially youth, and always believed a better future was possible. She did incredible work.


As the 1970s unfolded, she and her husband Jim became deeply involved in community action and social justice, ultimately selling their house and moving the family into an international organization dedicated to community empowerment, called the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA). This work took them to Montreal, Chicago, Mississippi and ultimately to Denver. In 1979, they moved back into a private home, but remained deeply connected to the ICA mission and people over the next four decades.


In 2016, OliveAnn and Jim were instrumental in launching the “Accelerate Neighborhood Climate Action“ (ANCA) non-profit organization, promoting local community climate education and action. ANCA will be one of OliveAnn’s legacies. It has strong leadership, and is growing in many Colorado neighborhoods.


But OliveAnn was first and foremost a teacher. She taught and developed curriculum for more than 40 years. In the 1980s, she began working with an innovative Denver Public School called the Career Education Center. She developed a project-based learning approach that led to her recognition In 1991 as the Disney Math Teacher of the year. This award came with a hefty bronze trophy of a child lifting up a geodesic sphere, which has been displayed proudly in her living room ever since.


In the 1990s, she decided to pursue a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction (1991), and a PhD in Educational Leadership and Innovation (1999), each completed at the University of Colorado at Denver. Shortly thereafter, she began teaching teachers how to teach mathematics. Working as an adjunct professor at Metro State University, she taught mathematics and mathematics methods for pre-service teachers — right up until the pandemic hit, in 2020.


OliveAnn was an extraordinary mother, providing her children with a continuous source of nurturing support, and helping them find their own sense of direction through various school and career phases. The family always gathered at Christmastime, often renting hotels or cottages in the mountains, to celebrate another year and spend time with one another. During those gatherings, OliveAnn would always lead the whole family — including spouses, partners, kids and grandkids — in a structured conversation, featuring questions like “What were some of the highlights of the year?”, “What are you struggling with?”, and “If you were to make one promise to your future self in one year’s time, what would it be?”


In 1998, OliveAnn became a grandmother, eventually adding four grandchildren to her heart, and really stepping up her knitting game. For each, there were knitted booties, mittens and jumpers, and too many special gestures and moments to list. She would often sit with the grandchildren, asking questions, telling stories, and just … being with them. Every holiday, birthday, and season brought cards and gifts. All visits involved ice cream trips. She has earned her place forever in those four little hearts.


Ultimately, the best way to understand OliveAnn is through her role as wife and partner to Jim Slotta. They were together for 62 years (married for 58), through thick and thin, good and bad, morning and night, sickness and health. The two were a force, joined together as colleagues and partners in all things: household, lifestyle, work, parenting and grandparenting. They wove their lives together, supporting and loving each other. On Christmas morning there would always be two cards tucked up in the tree: one from her to him, and the other from him to her. There was a deep understanding between the two, revealed in the light that shone when they looked at each other: the light of love that burned so brightly, so clearly, right up to the end. And even still.