Posting a followup to this thread...
It turns out that the focus problem was caused by some unknown event. Either the camera's focus mechanism getting stuck at some point, or more likely, a power-outage.
Just before we went over for the wpsmb group hike weekend, Doug played with the setup, and the focus magically came back.
While setting up the new cam, I discovered that if the plug is pulled on the camera's power supply (as in a power outage), the camera focus can change when it powers back up.
However, the laptop computer has a battery, so it never went down when the power failed, so the software program continued to run, without ever detecting a change. So it never re-set the camera's focus!
Once Doug sat down at the computer and played with settings, the program readjusted everything, and the focus came back!
Now, as the hardware currently runs today, the laptop I am using has no battery -- it died years ago. So if there is a power outage, someone at the hostel will need to go up and press the start button on the laptop. But the good thing is that I can connect to the laptop remotely, and get it to re-adjust the focus.
...but then the newer camera is set up to auto-focus, since there is apparently a bug in the Olympus driver software for that camera model, so that the software cannot focus on infinity when it is zoomed to the max. So the daytime focus should always be ok.
...but that leads to yet another problem: In auto-focus mode, in dim light, the camera goes into infrared focus mode, and since there is a protective cover over the camera, it focuses on that, and not at infinity. So the picture is completely blurred out.
Maybe I should go back and re-install the older camera to take the low-light pictures.