Earl B. Olson
Olson, Earl B. 91 years, seven months and three days, of Willmar, died Monday, December 11, 2006 at his home. Funeral services will be 11:00 am Saturday, December 16 at Vinje Lutheran Church in Willmar. Private family burial will be in Fairview Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5-8 pm Friday at Harvey Anderson Funeral Home, 1000 19th Ave SW, Willmar, MN, 56201, (320) 235-0545 and continue one hour prior to services at the church on Saturday. Memorials preferred to American Cancer Society, Concordia College, Luther Seminary or Vinje Lutheran Church. Earl was born on May 8, 1915, on a farm north of Murdock, MN, the son of Olof and Anna (Anderson) Olson. His father immigrated to the United States from Sweden at the age of 20 and landed on Ellis Island in 1895. His mothercame from Sweden to the US with her parents at the age of three. They were founding members of Bethesda Lutheran Church and farmed north of Murdock until their deaths. After eight grades of school in Murdock, Earl enrolled in the West Central School of Agriculture, Morris, MN, graduating in 1932. On September 17, 1938, he was untied in marriage to Dorothy Erickson in North Dakota. Earl was the founder of the Jennie-O Turkey Store and served as President and Chief Executive Office until 1974 when he became Chairman of the Board. He was Chairman Emeritus at the time of his death. Mention Earl Olson anywhere in the United States turkey industry and it will be immediately recognized. Minnesota was not a significant turkey state when Earl entered the turkey procession industry in 1949 at Willmar. Today, Jennie-O Turkey Store is the largest turkey company in the world and Minnesota is the largest turkey producing state in the U.S. Earl was a mainstay and pillar of support for an industry close to his heart. He was concerned for all people in the turkey industry, including those who cared for turkeys on the farms to company presidents. Earl always had time to talk and listen. His actions gained him the confidence and trust of the industry at state and national levels. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Jennie-O Turkey Store and past Director of the International Trade Development Board, National Turkey Federation, Hormel Foods, Poultry and Egg Institute of America, Minnesota Poultry and Egg Association, Past President and Director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and National Poultry and Egg Association. Earl's remarkable concern for the progress was an important part of his private, community and church life. He always found time to extend personal help and advice to people in need and was quietly generous to churches, colleges, community projects, Concordia College of Moorhead, MN and Luther Seminary of St. Paul, MN. Earl was a member of Vinje Lutheran Church in Willmar, where he served on various committees and was instrumental in the building of the present church. He also was the driving force behind the YMCA in Willmar. He was past Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bremer Bank, Willmar, past Regent of Concordia College and past Director of Boy Scouts of America Viking Council, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, and Camp Courage Society for Crippled Children, Willmar Community Golf Club, Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and the YMCA. He received many awards during his lifetime including the WCCO Good Neighbor Award, The Sliver Beaver Award from Boy Scouts of America Viking Council, Minnesota Business Hall of Fame, The Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture from the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Swede of the Year, Gustavus Adolphus Honorary Doctorate and the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award established by the Kandiyohi County Economic Development Partnership. He is survived by his children, Charles (and Sharon) Olson; Jeffry (and Pat) Olson; Bruce (and Carolyn) Olson, all of Spicer; Jennifer (and Jay) Novak of Medina, MN; Michael Olson of Bemidji, MN; 14 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and brother, LeVerne Olson of Murdock, MN. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Dorothy; grand- daughter, Carrie and sister, Miriam Swenson.
Published on December 13, 2006
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