Ray Olson, 76, of Granite Falls, died Saturday, November 23rd at the St. Cloud Hospital. Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, December 2nd at 11 a.m. at the United Church of Christ in Granite Falls. Visitation will be held Sunday afternoon from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Wing-Bain Funeral Home in Granite Falls and will continue one hour prior to services at the church on Monday. Arrangements are with the Wing-Bain Funeral Home.
Raymond Eugene Olson was born on April 22, 1943 in Montevideo to Royal and Norma (Stewart) Olson. He was baptized at home in Clarkfield and confirmed at the Methodist Church in Montevideo. He attended school in Clarkfield and Montevideo and graduated from Montevideo High School in 1961. He kept in touch with his classmates through annual gatherings, making lifetime friends and sharing great memories. Following graduation, Ray enlisted in the Army National Guard and completed six years of service.
Ray married his high school sweetheart, Sharon Odegard, on June 29, 1963, and they had three children – Steve, Scott and Stacie. Ray was a constant in his children's lives and always attended their activities. He also very happily gave his time and talents to support these activities. He became a 4H leader, helping to organize the first city 4H club in Montevideo that is still an active club today. All of his children benefited from his involvement and enjoyed participating in various areas that the 4H club offers. He and Sharon hosted five students from Japan through the 4H exchange program, as well as being foster parents to teenagers for over ten years.
During the years his children were in band, he helped organize a fundraiser based on coupon redemption. The funds raised helped with purchasing band instruments, supporting band events and funding performance band trips to Disneyland, Washington, DC and Canada. He also developed a computer program for the coupon fundraiser to track each students' earnings to pay for that student's band trip.
Both of his sons, as well as some of his nephews, participated in wrestling while in school. Since Ray had also been a wrestler, he was a natural to share his knowledge and experience with them. He, Sharon and Stacie attended countless wrestling meets and tournaments over the years. Ray helped to organize the Montevideo mat club to help support the town's wrestling programs. He also developed a computer program to help streamline the process of matching youth wrestlers into weight classes for wrestling tournaments.
Ray had a passion for dirt track racing. He raced a couple seasons himself before helping his sons get started in the sport by racing go-carts around Montevideo. This start evolved through the years with his sons and grandsons racing dirt modifieds across the Midwest. He and his son, Steve, even started a racing-related business (Ray-Son Graphics) that produced computer generated vinyl graphics. These graphics were used as numbers, names and sponsor logos on all levels and types of race cars from dirt track to NASCAR and replaced the traditional hand painting. Ray took his computer and vinyl cutting equipment to racing events throughout the US. He incorporated his grandchildren in the business by helping peel vinyl and installing on the racecars.
Over the years, Ray worked as an outside salesman at Goodyear Tire Company, as well as an insurance agent at Farm Bureau Insurance. Ray's final work for over 12 years involved delivering large Winnebago RV's from the factory in Forest City, IA to dealers throughout the US, including Alaska and Canada. Ray was able to see the world, got paid to do it, and was even able to make some of these travels with family and friends.
As with his own children, Ray was just as involved in his 10 grandchildren's and one great-grandchild's lives. He and Sharon traveled to support their grandchildren in academic activities, sporting events, choir, cheerleading, graduations, coaching and any interest they pursued. He stayed connected with regular phone calls to everyone in his family if he couldn't travel to see them in person.
Ray enjoyed hunting and fishing with his dad, Royal, and his children. He loved spending time at the lake teaching his children and grandchildren to water ski. He enjoyed working with his hands in his garden, as well as building his and Sharon's lake house in Walker. He also helped build Steve's family home, Stacie's family home, and made one final trip to Steve's future retirement home.
Those who met Ray could see that he was an incredibly kind, diversely skilled, and immensely knowledgeable person. To those who knew Ray the best --- his family, and close friends --- these traits form the foundation of their memories. Ray was a constant source of happiness to his friends, family, and community. Whatever he knew, he was willing to share; whatever he could do, he was happy to help. To a friend, a grandchild, or a complete stranger, Ray was always there to help.
Ray is survived by his wife of 56 years, Sharon of Granite Falls; his son Steve (Cheryl) Olson of Sioux City, IA; his son Scott (Sheri) Olson of Blairsburg, IA; his daughter Stacie (Tate) Fischer of Boise, ID; grandchildren: Geoff Olson of Sioux City, IA; Elissa (Curt) Thomson of Okoboji, IA; Tyler (Katie) Olson of Lakeville; Emilie Olson of St. Cloud; Taylor Olson of Story City, IA; Kylee Olson of Ames, IA; Charlee and Jax Olson of Blairsburg, IA; Ellie and Carson Fischer of Boise, ID; and great-grandchild Jahmari Wiley of Story City, IA; mother, Norma Olson of Montevideo; sisters, Lois (Duane) Bonde of Alexandria; Arlene (Jim) Kranz of Montevideo; Linda Bolstad of Montevideo, as well as many in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins and many dear friends.
Ray is preceded in death by his father, Royal Olson; and sisters, Shirley Olson and Janice Olson.