Wendell Luverne Olson (Oct 16, 1923 - Nov 14, 2020) died of Covid-19, in the ninth month of the pandemic.
Born in Milaca, MN to George and Effie (Larson) Olson, he was a proud Swede and active in many clubs with this theme, as well as a long-time member of the American-Swedish Institute. His family moved to Lake City when he was a young child, and he grew up working with his family at his father’s chicken hatchery while going to school. He graduated in 1941 and joined the Navy in 1943, following in the footsteps of his elder brother, Lorimer. He served as a Pharmacist Mate at Naval Hospital 16 on Woendi Island in the South Pacific until he returned home in March 1946.
He had been keeping up correspondence with his highschool-sweetheart, Ione Meyer throughout the war, whom he married on March 17, 1946. Using the G.I. Bill, Wendell graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Business. He began a career in banking that same year and worked his way up with his intelligence, even temper, and efficiency. In 1958 he was named the youngest branch president at Fourth Northwestern National Bank in the Ceder-Riverside neighborhood. He and his family lived in south Minneapolis, before moving to Minnetonka, then Bloomington.
Although proud of his own military service, Wendell has said that one of his most proud moments is when his son, Peter, achieved Conscience Objector status during the Vietnam War. Peter asked for his father’s blessing before proceeding, and they worked together to officially complete the process. Wendell rarely talked about what he saw during WWII but said that although he never fired his gun at another human being, that did not keep the horrors of war from staying with him for the rest of his life. He shared that the worst thing he saw were boats loaded with soldiers entering the hospital after surviving battles, bombings, and even capture and torture. He did his duty willingly and spent his life truly enjoying his freedoms and was thankful for what he knew was a blessed life.
Ione and Wendell were active and long-time members of Peace Lutheran Church on Bush Lake Road in Bloomington, Minnesota. Wendell had many fond memories of clergy, events, and friends there, even though he hadn’t visited in many years. They often brought flowers for the alter from their bountiful gardens, which they both loved and tended together.
An avid golfer, he was a long-standing member at the Minnesota Valley Country Club, and later enjoyed Dwan as well. He spent much of his time cheering for the U of M Golden Gopher football team as a season ticket holder, attending social events such as the Minnesota Orchestra and The Guthrie Theater and enjoying as many Twins games as his schedule would allow, first at Metropolitan Stadium, then the HHH Metrodome, and even into his 90’s he made it to a few games at Target Field.
In his golden years, Wendell lost his son, Peter Meyer Olson in 2003. His wife never recovered from this loss, slowly falling into depression and dementia and wasting away. Every single day of this long process Wendell visited her at the Masonic Home. When her wedding rings disappeared he bought a new one, which he put on her finger as they met for each visit. They would often take a ride in a golf cart, shop the ‘Main Street’, and eat ice cream together.
After her death in 2010, Wendell moved back to be near his daughter and grandson. For the last decade, Wendell has been a resident of the Lake City Care Center where he seemed to make friends or become re-acquainted with everyone he met. He continued to write letters to friends and family until just days before his death.
The family would like to thank the staff and many volunteers who continued to make Wendell’s life full and active until being restricted by the pandemic. His enjoyment of sports, reading, socializing, and visiting wherever the bus took him was expressed in every letter he wrote and the conversations he had.
His life and legacy will be carried on by his two great-grandchildren: Noah and Micah Klein, as well as two grandchildren Lanica (Brad) Klein, and Patrick (Diane) Lynch. His sister Glenys and two younger brothers, Robert and George, also mourn his loss. He is proceeded in death by his parents, wife, daughter Cynthia Ann Lynch Peters, and son Peter Meyer Olson as well as his elder brother Lorimer “Ole” or “Glenn” (1921-2019) and younger sister Elaine who passed from cancer in 1990.
Do to the Covid 19 the family will be holding a service at a later date. On Line Condolences may be placed at www,mahnfamilyfuneralhome.com
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