Edgar Laverne Olson, age 82, of Fosston, MN, passed away after a brief illness on Thursday, August 20, at Madison Healthcare Services Hospital in Madison, MN. The family will have a private burial and will arrange a Celebration of Life once COVID restrictions are lifted. Interment will be in Bethlehem Lutheran Cemetery, Queen Township. Memorials are preferred and may be dropped at the funeral home in Fosston. Arrangements are with Carlin Family Funeral Service of Fosston and messages of condolence may be shared at www.carlinfuneral.com.
Edgar was born on October 19, 1937 in Fosston, MN to Ida (Haugen) Olson and Anton Olson. Edgar was the eldest of five children born to Ida and Anton.
Raised in rural Fosston on the family homestead, Edgar grew up speaking Norwegian and only learned English when he began attending Sunnyside Country School. He always said it wasn’t a problem as all the store owners in Fosston at that time also spoke Norwegian (except for the candy store, and there he could just point at what he wanted!).
Edgar attended Fosston High School (Class of 1955) where he played football, basketball, and was very active in 4-H and FFA, receiving his American Farmer Degree. He briefly attended NDSU, and returned to farming full time.
Appropriately for a farmer, Edgar met his first wife, Phyllis Marquardt, at the 1956 Minnesota State Livestock Show in St. Paul–he was exhibiting sheep and she had the prize-winning steer! Edgar and Phyllis married on October 27, 1957 and made their home on the family homestead in Fosston. Edgar and Phyllis had two children, Kristine (1964) and Jon (1968). The family raised beef, prize-winning Hampshire sheep, small grains and corn on their farm and always had a beloved border collie or two as well. Sadly, Phyllis passed away in 1991.
During his life Edgar was an active leader in the local community—whether 4-H and FFA, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, the East Polk County Fair Board, the Red River Valley Winter Shows Board, and the Garden Valley Telephone Board. He also served on the Essentia Health Hospital Board and the Ultima Bank Board.
Edgar was also active in many industry groups—most notably the American Sheep Producers Council for which he served as national President. He merged this association with the National Woolgrowers Association and created the American Sheep Industry (ASI) association and served as its first president.
Having been active politically with the Democrat Farm Labor Party (DFL) throughout his life, Edgar was elected to the Minnesota State House of Representatives in 1984, representing District 2B, and served in the legislature until 1998.
Edgar also served as Executive Director of the Minnesota Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI)—a position which he held for 8 years until he retired in 2006.
Edgar met his second wife, Julie Bleyhl, through their shared interests in agriculture and politics. The couple were together for many years and most recently resided in Madison and Roseville, MN. Edgar and Julie also enjoyed traveling, especially their trips to Australia, New Zealand, and Norway. They enjoyed their times with Julie’s parents, Lillian and Emerson, as well as the many farm cats they adopted—most recently ‘Little Guy”–Edgar’s favorite cat.
Edgar enjoyed seeing his grand-children grow-up—particularly watching their sporting events—and traveled to visit Jon and Dee in their new home in California. He also regularly traveled to visit Kristine and Bryan in England where over the years they went to many UK and European agriculture shows. Highlights of which were the Paris Farm Show and seeing the livestock auction yard in Perth, Scotland, from which one of his bulls had been purchased many years before. Edgar loved traveling and the related experiences and was very proud that he had visited 47 of the 50 states in his lifetime, as well as the UK, Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain, and Norway.
Edgar was preceded in death by his first wife, Phyllis (Marquardt) Olson, his parents, Anton and Ida Olson, and his brother Arlen Olson. Also preceding him were his parent in-laws, Herold and Esther Marquardt and Lillian Bleyhl; his sisters-in-law Helen Marquardt and Judy (Duane) Olson, and his brothers-in-law Duane (Clarice) Dietrich and Earl (MaryAnn) Young.
Edgar is survived by his wife, Julie Bleyhl and his father-in-law, Emerson Bleyhl, of Madison; his daughter Kristine Olson-Chapman and her husband Bryan Chapman, of London, England; his son Jon Olson and his wife Dee, along with their children—Marie, Kate, Sophie and Jake–all of El Dorado Hills, CA. He is also survived by his sisters, Clarice Dietrich of East Grand Forks, and Marion (Andy) Grondahl of Fosston, and his brother, Duane Olson of Fosston and his sister-in-law MaryAnn Young of Faribault.