William Leslie Olsen; Retired Bank President

William Leslie Olsen, retired president of City National Bank in Beverly Hills, has died at his Woodland Hills home. He was 71.

Olsen spent 29 years with the bank and served as president from 1974 to 1986.

Olsen died Sunday of lung cancer, said his son, Michael Olsen.

Born Jan. 19, 1919, in Grand Rapids, Mich., Olsen was raised on the South Side of Chicago. He served as a bombardier in the Air Corps during World War II. His plane was hit by enemy fire on New Year’s Eve, 1943, during a raid on Ludwigshafen, Germany, and landed in a pasture in France. He spent the next months assisting the French underground, then made his way to British-held Gibraltar, before he was transferred to Ontario, Calif., to train pilots.


Olsen started his banking career with Union Bank in Los Angeles in 1948 as an assistant vice president and loan officer. He went to work as a vice president for City National Bank in 1957, working his way up to president.

Olsen was past director of the California Bankers Assn., executive director of the Foundation for the Junior Blind in the early 1980s and a longtime member of the El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy Olsen of Woodland Hills; a son, Michael of Los Angeles; and sister, Lorraine Smith of Tucson.

A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at Praiswater Funeral Home, 5849 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys, which is handling the arrangements. Donations can be made in Olsen’s name to the Los Angeles Make-a-Wish Foundation.