Earl Eugene Olson was born on October 5, 1923 in Alexandria, MN to Oscar Melvin Olson and Hazel Bernice (Nelson) Olson. He was an only child and grew up in Alexandria where he enjoyed sports, fishing with his dad on Lake Carlos, and spending time with his cousins.
Earl graduated from Alexandria High School in 1941. On December 11, 1942 Earl enlisted in the army. He spent one year “training” in antiaircraft at Camp Haan in Riverside, California. He then traveled on a “Troop Train” across the United States to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. He “shipped out” for Scotland in January 1943. He served in “D-Day t6”, the “Battle of the Bulge”, and met the Russians in Berlin. He was proud to have been in Southern Belgium which was the same area that his dad served in WWI. Earl received five battle stars during his time in service. He was discharged on December 9, 1945 in Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. Earl married Madelyn Braaten on November 22, 1947 and the couple had four daughters, Marilyn, Karen, Judy, and Nancy. Earl and Madelyn lived in Alexandria where they eventually settled at their lake home on West Lake Carlos.
After the war Earl worked for the Douglas County Highway Department for five years before he owned and operated Uptown Grocery in Alexandria for five years. For twenty-four years, Earl was a salesman in the non-foods business first for Pearl Jobbing and then Grove Kelco. He “made his mark” traveling to grocery stores in western Minnesota and eastern North and South Dakota. For the last ten years of his working career, Earl worked as a custodian for Alexandria Public Schools.
Upon retirement, Earl embarked on his passion of “serving others.” He volunteered at Bethany Home as a bus and pontoon driver and in the coffee shop where he visited with “friends” in what he called “party time.” He also was a volunteer driver for Rainbow Rider where he used his own car to take people to medical appointments around the region. Earl estimated that he drove for 199,000 miles and 2,476 trips during his time with Rainbow Rider.
Earl was one of the all-around “great guys” who had a special place in his heart for those in need. He was a lifetime member of Svea Lutheran/Calvary Lutheran Church in Alexandria where he was baptized in December 1923 and confirmed on October 31, 1937. He served on the church Council, taught Sunday School, was a devoted member of the early morning bible study group, and volunteered for many church functions. He especially enjoyed spending time with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren with whom he spent countless hours giving lawn mower rides, enjoying the lake and the woods, and making sure they all knew how welcome they were in his and Madelyn’s home.
Earl passed away peacefully at Bethany on the Lake on August 17, 2019 at the age of 95 surrounded by his loving family. He was preceded in death by his parents, Oscar and Hazel, and his oldest daughter, Marilyn (Marna).
He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Madelyn; children, Karen (Ernie) Freund, Judy (Jeff) Olson, and Nancy (Kevin) Sorensen; grandchildren, Max (Brenda) Jacobson, Travis (Mande) Olson, Megan Jacobson, Tracy (Marcus) Israelsson, Brent (Katie) Olson, Stefanie (Stephen) Menning, and Vince Breyer; great-grandchildren, Michael, Ashley, Madelyn, and Macy Lyn Jacobson, Wyatt, Bennett, Tate and Finley Olson, Emmett, Ella and Weston Olson, Audrey, Graham and Henry Menning, and Logan and Josie Breyer, and numerous cousins and relatives.
Visitation will be held on Friday, August 23, 2019 from 10 to 11 AM at Calvary Lutheran Church in Alexandria, followed by the memorial service at 11 AM. Interment with military honors to follow at Evergreen Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Calvary Lutheran Church of Alexandria, Mount Carmel Ministries, or Hospice of Douglas County.
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Mount Carmel Ministries
PO Box 579, Alexandria MN 56308
Hospice of Douglas County
809 Elm St Suite 1200, Alexandria MN 56308