Lee Elden Olson, Lieutenant Colonel (retired) passed away peacefully after a brief stay at the Tomah Veterans Hospice Center, Tomah, WI on October 25, 2018, surrounded by his loving family.
He was born on July 20, 1945, in Prairie du Chien, WI to Edwin and Geneva Olson. He grew up in Crawford County and graduated from Seneca High School in 1963. He joined the Army in December of 1963 and after basic training, served in Germany. When he returned from Germany, he attended UW Madison for a semester and then held several jobs before returning to Barber School in Illinois. He barbered in Mt. Sterling, WI and then attended UW-La Crosse, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and Math in 1969. He married Marilyn Helgerson on December 14, 1968, at Mt. Sterling Lutheran Church, Mt. Sterling, WI. Together they had one daughter, Carrie Otena Rand who was the light of Lee’s life. He joined the Army Reserves in 1971. He received his commission while in the reserves as a member of the Engineer Battalion in Onalaska, WI. He was then Active Reserve and served in various positions having many different assignments to include Ft. McCoy, Fort Snelling, Alaska and Pittsburg, PA. He retired as a Lt. Colonel in 2003 after over 30 years of dedicated service to his country. As a soldier, Lee’s priority was always for the soldiers and their families. Lee had a passion for gardening and enjoyed hunting, fishing, good conversation and cocktails. After retirement, Lee spent his time taking care of his grandchildren whom he was extremely proud of and loved with all of his heart. His family made his heart beam with pride. He was also a dedicated member on the board for the Deke Slayton museum, and helped pioneer the first youth space camp.
Lee is survived by his loving wife, Marilyn; daughter, Carrie (Michael) Rand; grandchildren, Brandon Lee Rand and Allison Rose Rand; step grandson, Remington Rand, all of Sparta. He is also survived by his only brother, Gary (Jan) Olson of La Crosse; sister in law, Shirley (William) Kvigne, brother in law, Robert Helgerson, as well as nephews, Kevin (Marcia) Kvigne, Kris Kvigne and Denae (Marcia) DuCharme, nieces, Pamela (Greg) Dome, Julie (Todd) Stevens, Karrin (Brett) Frost and Kristin (Kyle) Kriegl. In addition, he is survived by his many great nieces and nephews, many special cousins, his military brothers, Wayside buddies and many other dear friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Edwin and Geneva Olson, his in-laws, Bernice and Newman Helgerson, his sister in-law, Marlene Helgerson and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
Lee’s life will be celebrated with a funeral service at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at Congregational United Church of Christ, 201 North Water Street, Sparta, with Reverend William Clyma officiating. Lunch will be served in the church fellowship hall following the service. Burial will follow at Utica Lutheran Church Cemetery (just north of Mt. Sterling) with Military honors.
Family and friends are invited to call from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Monday at Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home, Sparta, and from 10 a.m. until time of services on Tuesday at the church.
The Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home, Sparta, is assisting the family with funeral arrangements.