John Harlow Olson died October 31, 2018, in the Minnesota Veterans Home, Minneapolis, MN, at the age of 88. He died 100 years and two days after his uncle and namesake John Olson died from influenza in World War I.
John H. Olson was born in Yellow Medicine County, Minnesota to Oscar F. Olson and Stella Midboe Olson, on the homestead founded by his grandparents, John Hillenbrand Olson and Mathilda Anderson Olson. He attended Vineland rural school district #1 for seven years and graduated from the Cottonwood, MN high school in 1948. He was baptized and confirmed and taught Sunday School in Silo (later Christ) Lutheran church in Cottonwood. After a year at Augsburg College in Minneapolis he joined the Air Force in 1950 at the outbreak of the Korean War. He served in Libya at Tripoli Air Force Base, working in radar and electronics and traveling in his free time through much of Europe and the Middle East. In 1954 he resumed studies at Augsburg, graduating in 1957, and then received a Master of Divinity degree at Luther Seminary in St. Paul in 1960.
John spent almost 60 years in the Minneapolis area, working at Musicland stores while living in Minneapolis’s Dinkytown, Hopkins, and Richfield before retiring in 1992. He was active in the area’s Singles All Together social club, leading the hiking group and enjoying lunches and trips with his many friends. He was a member of Oak Grove Lutheran church during most of this time. He also spent 28 winter vacations in Jamaica, meeting old friends every year and swimming and scuba diving at Montego Bay.
He moved to the Veterans Home in Spring 2018, where he died after repeated illnesses and finally pneumonia. The staff loved him and conducted a “procession of honor” for him on the day of his death, with “Taps” played over his flag-draped body. A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Veterans Home at 2 p.m. for family and friends. Interment of his remains will take place later in Christ Lutheran cemetery in Cottonwood, MN.
John was preceded in death by his parents, his older brother Douglas Olson and his wife Josie, and his niece Pamela Olson Peterson. He is survived by two sisters, Beverly Flanigan of Athens, OH and Barbara Dettle of Northfield, MN; two nieces, Marjorie Olson Flaata of Sacred Heart, MN and Elizabeth Dettle Haugen of Minneapolis; one nephew, Patrick Flanigan of Athens, OH; ten great nieces and nephews; thirteen great-great nieces and nephews; and many cousins and friends, including special friend Georgia Ogstad of Bloomington, MN.
Blessed be his memory.