Grandpa Ted’s words of wisdom: “if the roof doesn’t leak, you’ve got a good bed to sleep in and plenty to eat and you can still work, don’t complain” certainly rang true in the life of his son Robert O. (Bob) Olson of Lanesboro, MN.
Bob and his twin brother Raymond were born to T.D. and Jeanette (Honsey) Olson on October 21, 1917 in Pilot Mound Township where Bob, and his brothers Herold, Tillman, Reuben, and Ernie attended country school and worked the family farm. The boys’ mother passed away at an early age and was ultimately raised by their step mom – Olga Ladsten.
With extremely hard economic times looming, at age 17 Bob joined the Civilian Conservation Corps moving to a CCC camp in Two Harbors, MN where he earned $25 a month of which $20 was sent back home to his parents and siblings to financially assist them during the Great Depression. While in Two Harbors he worked from sun up to sun down cutting brush. In the spring of 1935 Bob was able to move closer to home working in the CCC Camps in Plainview, Elba (Whitewater State Park) and finally to a camp in Lanesboro. He dug ditches, helped build dams on streams, cleaned latrines, did laundry, became a dining room orderly, etc. While at the Lanesboro site he worked on the overlook at Inspiration Point located SW of Lanesboro on Highway 16. (Inspiration Point was recently renovated by the MN Depart of Transportation.) Note: Bob was believed to be the last living CCC Camp worker on this site. Each move offered him the opportunity to increase his salary, eventually achieving a wage of $45 a month of which he was allowed to keep $15 a month. His new found wealth allowed him to buy a 1928 Touring Chevrolet with side curtains - making monthly payments of $5 a month.
It was during this same time period that he met the love of his life and in his words, “the best damn cook in Fillmore County”! Bob and Elinor eventually moved to the country where they owned and operated the City Forty Farm for 51 years. Bob, Elinor and sons Bob and Rollie farmed the land, raised registered Brown Swiss – selling and shipping them all over the world, and raised over 10,000 laying hens. Bob never “let grass grow under his feet”, running a portable feed mill for 21 years, selling DeKalb seed corn and Morman’s Mineral Feeds, digging graves (by hand) for 20 plus area cemeteries for over 35 years – retiring at the age of 81, and, yes, could still be seen many a Saturday night leading his wife around the dance floor, and, somehow he always found time to play “horsey” and drive the grandchildren around the farm on his Allis Chalmers tractor when they came to visit.
At 101 years old Bob still lived in his own home, mowed his yard, and made his weekly Friday visits to the Lanesboro Sales Barn to keep up on the latest news and what’s happening in the local farming and Lanesboro communities.
Bob and Elinor had been married for 74 years when she passed away in 2014. Bob is survived by sons Robert A. (Sandy) Winona, Rollie G. (Julie), Harelson, TX ; grandchildren – Douglas (Angie) Olson, Hudson, WI, Kelly (Michael) Schroeder, Winona, MN, Danielle Olson, (Scott Fisher), Rochester, MN; Great Grandchildren – Sarah Marie (Conner) Verstegen, Pickett WI, Ryan Olson, Hudson, Wi, Sadie Gray, Rochester, MN, Tanner Gray Hudson, WI; Tawni Kramer, LaCrosse, Wi and Jaden Kramer, Winona, MN and Great Great Grandson Levi Thomas Verstegen, Pickett, WI and many other extended family members.
A memorial service will be held Friday, April 5, 2019 at the Elstad Lutheran Church, rural Lanesboro, MN. Visitation will be held from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. with services at 2:00 p.m. Interment will be at the Elstad Lutheran Church Cemetery.
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