Philip O. Olson 96, of Belgrade, died Tuesday, February 23, 2021, at Bethesda Grand in Willmar. A visitation will be held Friday, February 26, 2021, from 5-8:00 pm at the Johnson Funeral Home in Belgrade; the family will not be present. A private funeral service will be held, with hopes for a memorial celebration, summer 2021. Burial will be at Grace Lutheran West Cemetery in Belgrade.
Philip Orn Olson was born on May 9, 1924, in Brooten, MN, the son of Palmer and Olga (Baalson) Olson. He grew up in Brooten where he received his education, graduating from Brooten High School. In 1942, Philip started college at St. Olaf and was interrupted by WWII. In 1944 he entered the United States Navy where he served in the Pacific Theatre until he earned his honorable discharge in 1946. Philip then returned to St. Olaf College where he earned his Bachelor's Degree with a major in music and a minor in history. Throughout his life, Philip continued his education taking many graduate-level courses at colleges in the area.
On June 24, 1951, Philip was united in marriage to Lucille Anderson at Crow River Lutheran Church in rural Belgrade. This union was blessed with two daughters and a son. The family made their home in Belgrade where Philip taught music and directed the elementary and high school choirs, the band, and also marching band throughout his career. In 1983 he retired after 34 years in teaching.
Philip was a member of Grace Lutheran Church in Belgrade. He was the choir director and organist there and at Zion Lutheran before it, for a combined 50 years. He also volunteered as a Sunday school teacher, as a Luther League advisor for 25 years, and was the Search Bible Study Leader. Philip was a charter member of the Lions Club, serving as secretary for 17 years and on the Ridgewater Campus Ministry Board for 12 years. He was a member of the Belgrade Centennial Memorial Board and also the Myrtle Mabee Library Board; the curator for the Belgrade Museum; a member of the Litchfield Area Male Chorus and Paynesville Centrist Choir; director of the Norwegian Choir at the WCAL Radio Station at St. Olaf College. He also directed the music for the VFW Memorial Day and Veterans Day Programs in Belgrade for many years. In 1967 Philip was the Belgrade Teacher of the Year and one of eleven finalists for Minnesota Teacher of the Year. He organized multiple marching band appearances in Minnesota and in Port Arthur, Ft. William, and Winnipeg, Canada. Philip also earned 32 Presidential Sports Awards in swimming, cycling, sports fitness, walking, and bowling signed by Presidents: Carter, Reagan, George W. Bush, and Clinton. Philip also loved traveling with his wife, Lucille to Duluth and the North Shore. His family will remember him as a man that knew the value of time and never wasted a minute of it.
Having spent every minute of every day sharing his music and faith in the most generous ways he could, our dad, grandpa, teacher, and friend, impacted the lives of many. We shared him with his students, his community, his congregation, and sometimes, it felt like most of Stearns and Kandiyohi Counties! We ache to have lost the all-around best human being. He was repetitively generous, kind, faithful, and selfless. We relish the laughter he brought to our lives, often when we needed it most. We have his words, daily records, music, jokes, routines, and the many memories made traveling with him all around God’s great earth. We will remember him at the front of the band, marching down main street, in the backyard mowing in his denim shorts, humming a tune, working a crossword, and stopping for a “little lunch,” at every park or memorial marker along the route we traveled…and always his sweetheart, Lucille, by his side.
Philip is survived by his wife of 69 years, Lucille; children: Carol Fadness of Apple Valley, and Keith (Ruth) of Madison Lake; son-in-law, Joe (Elizabeth) Bayer of Annandale, grandchildren: Holly (Richard Warzecha) Bayer, Jon (Zsuzsa) Bayer, Steve (Shannon) Bayer, Tara (Jeremy) Koop, Courtney (David) Thornalley, Melissa (Jake) Stearns, and Philip (Jessi) Olson; great-grandchildren: Joseph, Madeleine, Charlie Seel; Zachary, Lucas, Dylan Bayer, Brayden, Emmitt, Lillian Bayer, Yesenia Pliego Sanchez, Skyler Koop, Ashton Thornalley; and Jaelyn and Miah Olson, and baby girl Stearns due in April; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; daughter, Judith Ann Bayer; great-granddaughter, Zeya Lily Koop, and his brothers, Rudolph and Joseph.
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