Longtime Alaskan and Soldotna resident Leonard J. Olson died Sunday, March 20, 2011, at his home in Soldotna. He was 90.
A celebration of his life will be 2 p.m. Saturday, April 2, 2011, at the Soldotna Bible Chapel. He will be buried in Riverview Cemetery, in Warroad, Minn. Another celebration of his life was to be held Saturday, March 26, at the First Congregational Church in Warroad.
Mr. Olson was born March 23, 1920, in Roseau County, Minn. He graduated from Warroad High School. He was teaching in a one room rural school when World War II broke out. He served in the Army Air Force for 3 years and served as a bombardier on a B-24 in the South Pacific, obtaining the rank of 1st lieutenant. He then obtained his B.S. in Physical Education and Industrial Arts from Moorhead State Teacher's College and an M.E. from the University of North Dakota.
On June 10, 1948, he married his college sweetheart in their mutual hometown of Warroad.
Mr. Olson served as teacher, principal or superintendent at schools in Pequot Lakes, Warroad, Pillager and the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota before coming to Alaska in 1966 to serve at Seward and Soldotna, where he retired in 1983 as principal of Soldotna Elementary. He then worked at a missionary school in Brazil for two years.
Mr. Olson was member of Soldotna Bible Chapel, putting in many hours helping build the current facility, serving as chairman and deacon. He was also one of the founders of the Kenai Peninsula Gideon Chapter.
Mr. Olson was a charter member and president of the Soldotna Rotary Club. He served on boards at Resurrection and Solid Rock Bible Camps and taught AARP 55 Alive classes for 15 years.
Mr. Olson was a handyman and helped out many families. He also enjoyed flying his Taylorcraft, hunting, hiking, camping, photography, travel and collecting biological specimens.
"He was a very loving and devoted husband and father and sought to lead his family in knowing God and loving Jesus Christ, our Savior. He was an inspiration for many and his faith permeated his life. I don't think anyone could ask for a more supportive, generous and loving husband and father," his family said.
Mr. Olson was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Susan Olson; brothers, Howard and Vernon Olson; and a daughter, Dawna Kay Olson.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Kathryn Olson, of Soldotna; son and daughter-in-law, Terry and Robin Olson; granddaughter, Molly Olson, all of Orlando, Fla.; brothers Lloyd and his wife Margaret Olson, of Warroad; and Max and his wife Rosemary Olson, of Fargo, N.D.; and sister, Ruth Anderson, of Long Prairie, Minn. Surviving sisters- and brothers-in-law are: Edward Brandli, Mavis Brandli, Evelyn and Don Berry, Will and Fran Brandli, all of Warroad; and Luella Brandli, of Mesa, Ariz.; 51 nieces and nephews; many cousins; his special adopted kids, Gary and Marsha Lindman, of Soldotna; Sandy and Rob Bolt and family, of Redmond, Wash.; and Merlene and Michael Conner, of Eagle River; and many more who called him Grandpa.
Memorial donations may be made to the charity of choice.
Arrangements were by Peninsula Memorial Chapel in Kenai.
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