Olaf M. Olsen

HELENA Ole Olsen, 93, died of natural causes Sunday, March 31, at Big Sky Care Center.

Cremation has taken place and services will take place at a later date. Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home of Helena handled arrangements.

Ole was born in Great Falls to Olaf and Nellie Olsen on July 18, 1919. He grew up with his four brothers and sisters in the Boston Heights neighborhood, where he developed many lifelong friendships. He graduated from Great Falls High School. As a youth, Ole played hockey on the Great Falls hockey team and played the clarinet. During World War II, he served in the Army 10th Mountain Division. In 1943, before shipping off to WWII, he married Annabel VanCleve in Great Falls. They were married for 66 years until 2011 when Annabel died. Ole saw action in Sitka, Alaska, and Italy where he earned two Bronze Stars. After the war he used the GI Bill to attend watch making school in Los Angeles. He and Annabel settled in Great Falls, where he owned and operated Olsen's Jewelry. In the 1960s, he sold the store and went to work in the Cascade County Assessor's office. In 1967, they moved to Helena, where he worked for the state revenue department until retiring in the 80s.

Both of his parents were Norwegian immigrants, as were several of his aunts and uncles. The American branches of the family formed a tight bond that resulted in Ole's strong devotion to family. He grew up celebrating holidays with lutefisk and fattigmand and passed these traditions along to the next generation. Ole and Annabel had three children in whom they instilled the values of hard work, frugality and love of family.

Ole loved people and had a wide range of interests. He and Annabel traveled all over the United States, visiting family and friends along the way. They traveled Europe to explore Ole's Norwegian roots, Annabel's Dutch roots, and visit the places Ole fought through during World War II. Ole had always been a collector and after retiring, he enjoyed scouring garage sales and secondhand stores looking for treasures. He concentrated on Montana brewery items and amassed a vast array of valuable items. He was instrumental in establishing the Big Sky Chapter of Beer Can Collectors and traveled across the United States to attend national and regional Conventions.

Ole is survived by his children, Donna (Keith) Kohnke of Billings, David (Leona) Olsen of Helena and Dale (Gail) Olsen of Cottonwood, Ariz.; his grandchildren, Amy, Jenny, Todd, and Rachel; great-granddaughters Kaitlin, McKenzie and Lauren; numerous nieces and nephews; and his cousins, John and Lillie.

Condolences may be posted online at www.aswfuneralhome.com and/or www.gftribune.com/obituaries.

Published in Great Falls Tribune on Apr. 4, 2013