Ronald L. Olson, 81, a longtime Stewartville, MN resident, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday (January 21, 2022), from complications of a lengthy illness with Parkinsons Disease, at Mayo Clinic Rochester – St. Marys Campus.
Ronald Leroy Olson was born on December 28, 1940, at home in Freeborn County, MN, to Christ and Lillian (Heaney) Olson, one of ten children. Ron was raised on the family farm near Glenville, MN, attended country school and then graduated from Glenville High School in 1958. Ron attended Austin Community College and Winona State College, graduating in 1962 with a Bachelor’s Degree in mathematics education, physics and chemistry education. He later earned his Master of Science degree in education. He taught 35 years at Stewartville High School as a mathematics teacher and was the school’s first computer science teacher. He served on a variety of high school committees. Ron was actively involved in Stewartville Education Association and served for a number of years as teachers’ right advocate and also as president of the organization. He also was active in Hiawatha Valley Teachers United, earning a number of honors from that organization. He used a sabbatical year to train at IBM to become one of the early trainers of area teachers in computer technology. During several summers he also traveled statewide, training teachers in computer technology. Additionally, after retiring from teaching, Ron worked at Gold Crown Limousine for a period of time and at Metafile for 5 years as a software trainer. He especially enjoyed canoeing, camping, day trips, and x-c skiing experiences with his Metafile friends.
Ron introduced students to the experience of camping and BWCA trips through Stewartville’s summer school and Zion Lutheran’s youth organization. He had a passion for the outdoors, camping, and canoeing and thoroughly enjoyed sharing this with both children, teens, and adults. His family made a number of trips together to the BWCA. For many years he also enjoyed bicycling, x-c skiing, and lately snowshoeing.
Ron was community minded and was involved with the Stewartville Jaycees and later in the Stewartville Kiwanis and served a number of years as Kiwanis president and treasurer. He volunteered with the Boy Scouts Troop 56 while his sons were active in the organization. He was a member of Zion Lutheran Church in Stewartville and served on many committees and taught Sunday school as well as served as president of the church council. Ron married Janet Anderson on August 10, 1963, and they lived in Stewartville. Mrs. Olson died in 1969. Ron married Mary Louise (Firl) Olson on May 31, 1970, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Red Wing, MN. They made their home in Stewartville all their married lives. Mary was a longtime educator at Rochester Community and Technical college until her retirement. Ronald and Mary enjoyed traveling to visit their children throughout the United States and in Colombia and in Germany as well as traveling to many state and national parks. Ron had special interest in assisting with the church’s backpack program and also with volunteering at Dorothy Day Hospitality House for the homeless. He also volunteered a number of times with Zion Lutheran’s disaster response team. Ron was an outgoing person who enjoyed giving and being around other people and who loved time spent with his family, especially his grandsons.
Ron is survived by his wife Mary; their children, David Olson of Jonesboro, GA; Lynn (Bryan) Cotton and grandsons Adam and Matthew of Poplar Grove, IL; Maureen Olson of Madison, TN; Jonathan Olson (Ivonne) of Albuquerque, NM; and Andrew Olson (Katy) and grandson Lasse of Berlin, Germany. He is survived by his sister LeAnn (James) Iseminger of Blair, NE; brothers Truman (Mary Lou) Olson of Brownsdale, MN, Elard (Florence) Olson of Glenville, MN, and many nieces and nephews. Ron was preceded in death by his parents, sister Gloria Mueller, brothers Curtis, Robert, Gaylord, and Orren Olson and an infant sister Betty.
A private family memorial service will be held at Zion Lutheran Church on Thursday (January 27, 2022) with Rev. Tim Bowman officiating. Graveside services will follow at Woodlawn Cemetery in Stewartville. A celebration of Ron’s life will be held in the summer at Zion Lutheran Church with details available online and in the Rochester PB, Stewartville Star, and Albert Lea Tribune. Arrangements are with Griffin Gray Funeral Home in Stewartville, MN. Ron’s family suggests memorials be sent to Good Earth Village, Spring Valley, MN; Friends of the Boundary Waters, St. Paul, MN; or Dorothy Day House, Rochester, MN. Condolences and memories of Ron are welcome at www.griffin-gray.com