University of Minnesota

Judge O. Russell Olson Obituary

Olson, Judge O. Russell died peacefully in his sleep on October 16, 2013 at Shorewood Senior Campus in Rochester. He was 89 years old. He was born on the family farm, June 19, 1924, in McKenzie County, North Dakota, to Halvor and Ida (Trytten) Olson. The family had no electricity or running water. During these formative years on the dustbowl during the depression, Russell and his nine siblings learned the values of hard work, discipline and respect for one's family and the value of education. The Olson family moved to a farm near Windom, MN in 1939. Russell graduated from Windom High School in 1941 and enrolled at St. Olaf College at age 17. His college education was interrupted while Russell served as a meteorologist (Lieutenant) with the United States Army Air Corps (Air Force) from 1943 to 1946. He returned to St. Olaf after the war, graduated in 1948, then attended law school at the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1951. On June 23, 1952 Russell married Jean Stemsrud. He practiced law in Albert Lea and was a well respected trial lawyer and the Freeborn County Attorney during the 1950's. Governor Karl Rolvaag appointed O. Russell District Court Judge in Rochester (May of 1963). He had a distinguished legal career as a district court judge from 1963-1990. Over the years, he became known to most as "Judge." He was a member of the Governor's Crime Study Commission (1968-1969), President of the Minnesota District Court Judges Association (1970-1971), a founder of and the first President of the alternatives correctional program PORT (1970-1971), an original member of the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission (1978), a visiting Acting Justice for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1973 (author of 14 opinions), and was an Adjunct Professor for the University of Minnesota Law School where he served as the trial judge for many trial school classes for over thirty years. Judge Olson was active in Rotary, also an active member of the Zumbro Lutheran Church, where he served a term as President. He enjoyed gardening, fishing, golf, reading, Gophers football, and the great outdoors. Russell loved traveling with Jeannie and spending time with his friends. O. Russell was a great conversationalist, and an avid bridge player. He loved his family and will be greatly missed. Survivors include his children, Kurt (Barbara) Olson of Shoreview, Minnesota, Gary Olson of Rochester, Minnesota, Douglas Olson (Cristine Leavitt) of Arden Hills, Minnesota and Elizabeth (Michael) McLellan of Green Bay, Wisconsin; and six grandchildren, Erik (Lindsay), Rebecca, Sydney, Reid, Brett and Blake. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, Jean; seven brothers; two sisters; and one granddaughter. A memorial service for Judge Olson will be held at 11:00 am on Friday, October 25, 2013 at Zumbro Lutheran Church in Rochester, Minnesota. Visitation will be Thursday, October 24, 2013 from 5-8 pm at Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes and also one hour prior to the service at the church. Memorials are suggested to The Rochester Reading Center in lieu of flowers. Ranfranz & Vine Funeral Homes, 5421 Royal Place NW, Rochester, MN 55901 (507) 289-3600
This obituary was originally published in the Star Tribune.
Read Full Obituary for O. Olson
Published online on October 20, 2013 courtesy of Star Tribune.

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