Phillip Martin Olson, 91, of Crookston, MN, passed away peacefully at the Villa St. Vincent in Crookston Tuesday evening, January 2, 2018, with his loving family at his side. He had been courageously battling pancreatic cancer for several months.
Phil was born at Shelly, Minnesota on May 4, 1926, one of three children of the union of Archie and Emelia (Efteland) Olson. Throughout his life he was extremely proud of his Norwegian heritage. His earliest years were spent in Shelly where he attended school through the 8th grade. In 1941 the Olson family moved to Crookston where he attended Central High School. Phil spent his summers during high school working on the Tony Kramer farm, and also for the Erickson Meat Market in town. He enlisted in the US Army on June 22, 1944, and after completing basic training at Camp Roberts, CA joined the 564th Field Artillery Company, which was attached to the 71st Infantry Division in Ft. Benning, GA. He later shipped out from Camp Kilmer, NJ and served in France, Germany, and Austria during WWII. In recognition of his service to his country our grateful nation awarded him the Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Bronze Star, WWII Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal with German Clasp, Honorable Service Lapel Button, and the Marksman Badge with Carbine Bar.
Following his honorable discharge on June 6, 1946, Phil returned to Crookston where he was employed by the Great Northern Railroad for a year, and then for Sanitary Dairy. On October 28, 1948 he was united in marriage to the love of his life, Veda Myrtle Taylor. The ceremony was performed by Pastor Molander in the Mission Covenant Church. In the coming years Phil and Veda would be blessed with the births of two sons, Larry and Chuck, who they raised in a very loving home. In 1950 Phil traveled to Minneapolis where he was enrolled in the Mohler Barber College. After completion of their course work he began his 60-year career as a licensed barber in Crookston. Most of those years were spent as the owner of the Olson Barber Shop. His many loyal customers looked forward to their time in his chair, and while his scissors flew, not once did he run out of things to talk about; whether it be the latest news about his family, wanting to hear about your family, relating his most recent hunting and fishing stories, or telling the latest jokes. Phil retired from barbering at the age of 85 in order to care for Veda in their home.
Phil and Veda loved being together, and some of their earliest dates included roller-skating at the old sports arena, and going to dances at the Elks Lodge. As the years passed many an hour was spent making memories as they fished for trout at Bad Medicine Lake. Spending time with Larry and his family, and Chuck, was always special, and the boys remained their best friends throughout life. Phil enjoyed landscaping his lawn and gardens, and sharing his bountiful crop of tomatoes with grandchildren and friends. He was also passionate about hunting for deer, moose, and bear every fall with his sons. He got the biggest kick out of telling everyone how he got his first deer while serving in Germany during the war.
Phil was a devoted member of Trinity Lutheran Church, and served two terms on the church council while also ushering for over thirty-nine years. He was secretary of local Barbers Union #904, and held memberships in Crookston’s VFW Post #1902, American Legion Post #20, and the Disabled American Veterans Chapter. On August 17, 2016 Phil and two of his good friends were honored during Ox Cart Days, during special Veterans Ceremony that took place on the University of Minnesota-Crookston campus, in recognition of their patriotic service to country and community. He was humbled to participate with many fellow veterans in an Honor Flight taken to Washington, DC to view the World War II Memorial.
Phil is survived by Veda, his beloved wife of sixty-nine years; their two sons, Larry Olson and his wife, LouAnne, of Crookston, MN and Chuck Olson of Bemidji, MN; 3 grandchildren: Matt (Chessica) Olson of Isanti, MN, Paul Olson of Isanti, and Lisa (Michael) Cole of Crookston; 6 great-grandchildren: Joslynn and Jace Olson, Madisyn, Caden, and Brittyn Sanders, and Owen Cole; as well as, nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends. Phil was preceded in death by his parents, Archie and Emelia; 8-year old brother, Ernest; and sister, Katherine Laurent. May God richly bless the memory of Phillip Martin Olson.
The funeral service and celebration of the life of Phil Olson will be held at 11:00 a.m., Friday, January 5, 2018, in the Trinity Lutheran Church in Crookston, MN with The Rev. Greg Isaacson, officiating. Visitation will be at the church for one hour prior to the service. Military Honors will be provided by the Crookston Veterans Council and the Minnesota National Guard Honors Unit, Moorhead, MN, and interment will be at Oakdale Cemetery in the spring. Memorials may be given in Phil’s memory to the Trinity Lutheran Church TV Media Ministry Fund. Phil was very grateful for his care during his illness and in his own words before he passed he said, “I want to thank Drs. Frugone and Schultz, the wonderful nurses and staff of Altru Clinic, RiverView Health, and Villa St. Vincent; and especially my two best caretakers, Larry and Chuck.