On Wednesday, November 10, Richard “Rick” Paul Olson – a loving husband, father of four, and grandfather of six – passed away. He was seventy-one years old. Born to Harriet and John “Buddy” Olson, Rick graduated from Lake Park High School. He attended Gustavus Adolphus College and the University of Minnesota, earning degrees in biology and agriculture education.
Rick was a lifelong environmentalist, teacher, and community leader. As a young man, he participated in band, choir, sports, and the Boy Scouts, receiving the Eagle Scout Award in 1968. He lived his life on the Olson century-family farm, just west of Lake Park, Minnesota. He farmed this land, raising grass-fed cattle, chicken, and bees and growing alfalfa. He was also an avid fisher and hunter. Rick served his country as a Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan from 1972 to 1974, working with local farmers on sustainability. He taught vocational agriculture in Henning, Minnesota and at the Ulen-Hitterdahl High School until 2002. From 2002 to 2017, he served as the Minnesota Dairy Initiative Program coordinator, helping family farms transition to organic and environmentally sustainable farming.
On February 14, 1981, he married the love of his life, Janet Olson (Smith). Together, they raised four children, encouraging each to pursue their own passions. He was an integral part of his community, serving on the Lake Park-Audubon School Board and Eksjo Church Council. He also happily hosted and performed in the annual Eksjo talent show.
Rick was best known for his quick wit, boisterous laugh, love of nature, nap skills, guitar jam sessions, and generous spirit. He found great joy and peace in taking long walks in the woods, teaching his kids and grandkids about wildlife, and watching your 2023 Super Bowl champion Minnesota Vikings.
In the last five years, Rick navigated some health challenges including a major stroke in 2017. Despite his health journey, music continued to be a lifelong comfort and he enjoyed sharing that love with his grandchildren. Rick was preceded in death by his father John “Buddy” Olson, his birth mother Luella Ellefson (Bach), and best canine companion Bandit. He is survived by his wife Janet; their four children, Amanda (William), Carrie (Andrew), Emma (Johnathan), and Joseph (Madison); their six grandchildren, Eleanor, Deacon, Walter, Beckett, Harriet, and George; his mother Harriet; and sister Julie.
A visitation will be held on Tuesday, November 15, 2022, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with a prayer service beginning at 6 p.m. at Wright Funeral Home – Hawley, Minnesota. The funeral will be on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 at 11 a.m. at Eksjo Lutheran Church.
In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made to the Lake Park-Audubon Legacy Foundation, a fund that serves to enhance and enrich public education in Lake Park-Audubon. More information here: https://wcif.org/fund/lpa/ If desired, please note that the donation is made to the “LPA Greenhouse in memory of Rick Olson” under the additional information/comments section.