Kenneth Olson, 74, resided in Fort Myers, Florida and Birchwood, Wisconsin. He died after a year long battle with small cell carcinoma at their summer home in Birchwood, WI on September 24, 2020.
He was born August 14, 1946 in River Falls, WI. His parents were Elmer B. Olson and Edna B. O’Brien Olson formerly from Hudson, WI. Ken graduated from Hudson High in 1964, University of WI- Stout in 1969 with a BS in American Industry, and Northern Illinois University in 1971 with a Masters degree in Special Education. He was married to Cheryl Thom in December of 1966.
Ken began working at a young age with a paper route and mowing lawns. In high school, he worked for Sherman Peterson, a Hudson building contractor that was like a second father to him. He worked as a paint contractor through college and his teaching years after being trained by his father-in-law, Romie Thom. Ken started his teaching career at the Northern Illinois University Lab School. He taught industrial arts while completing his masters degree. From DeKalb, Ill he moved his family to Menomonie, WI where he worked at the University of WI- Stout in the Special Education Department, while there he helped build a duplex in River Falls and he remodeled their family home. They then moved to Wisconsin Rapids where Ken taught Special Education at the Senior High. From there they moved to Black River Falls, WI, where again he taught Special Education at the Senior High. He painted nights and weekends to finance Cheryl getting her college degree. In 1977 Ken joined New York Life Insurance sales force and retired after 40 years. He loved selling insurance because he liked helping families protect their financial future.
Ken was active in the Black River Falls, WI community. He helped raise funds for the youth hockey association, the building of the Black River Falls Day Care, and twice served as president of the board of directors for the Skyline Golf Club. Ken helped raise funds for the golf course expansion and the new club house. He finally served on the board of the Educational Foundation of Birchwood. He was a member of MDRT, and a former member of rotary and Lions.
Ken was an avid golfer, fisherman, hunter and explorer. His family and friends were very important to him. Ken and Cheryl enjoyed traveling and meeting new people.
Ken is survived by his wife of 54 years, Cheryl A Olson; his brother, Steve Olson (Barbara), San Jose, CA; his son, Vance Olson (Julie Kasper) Fort Meyers, FL.; daughter, Sherry Wesolowski (Ron) Rice Lake, WI.; grandson, Nathanial Olson (Taylor Lincoln) Marshfield, WI; granddaughters, Megan and Madison Wesolowski, Rice Lake, WI; his great grandson, Flynn Olson. He is preceded in death by his parents, Elmer and Edna Olson, formerly from Hudson, WI and his in-laws, Roman and LaVaughn Thom, formerly River Falls, WI.
Ken’s life was celebrated with living memorials during the last few months of his life. Memorials may be given to the charity of your own choice.
The above describes Ken as a man of many talents, but, it does not describe the essence of who he was. Many friends have shared in Ken’s last few months how he touched and influenced them with his knowledge, experience and grace throughout the years. We all have been blessed by his kindness, generosity and sincerity. Ken had a great sense of humor and was a guy who wasn’t afraid to say it how it was. He always paid attention to others and made people feel like they mattered.
Appleyard’s Home for Funerals in Rice Lake, WI is in charge of the arrangements.