Bill Olsen


William (Bill) L. Olsen, 79, of Willmar, died June 25th at GlenOaks in New London. His memorial service will be 1:00 pm, Saturday, July 18th at Harvey Anderson Funeral Home in Willmar with visitation one hour prior to the service at the funeral home. Interment will be Sunday, July 19th at 1:00 pm at Lakewood Cemetery, Crosby, MN.

Bill was born in Minneapolis, August 28, 1940, to Willie Hubert Olsen and Lois Elaine Kjeldergaard. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1958. He attended the University of MN and received his AA in 1960. He followed that with a double BS in Math and Chemistry from Mankato State in 1963. He also attended University of Wisconsin - River Falls and took additional courses at the U of M. During college, he was a member of ROTC and Alpha Phi Omega (ΑπΩ) National Service Fraternity, where he met his wife. He earned his lifetime teaching certificate and pursued a career in education.

After college, he taught high school chemistry and math in various high schools including Delano, Robbinsdale, Osseo and Anoka. Years later, he also taught at Willmar Community College to fill in for the chemistry teacher who was on sabbatical.

He became active in the motion picture industry, working at Galaxy and then joining with his brother in Del Den Film labs, processing commercial film. His interest in analytical chemistry brought him to Willmar in 1978 to own his own analytical lab. He started Eco-Agri Labs with Betty. He was president until 2005 when he retired due to Betty’s health but continued to mentor and consult. He was also active with the Small Business and Ag programs at Willmar Vo-Tech. He also co-formed Mom’s Home Bakery, a business to produce bread by locally sourcing ingredients directly from area farmers. For years afterwards, he was still found every holiday season baking 80+ loaves of bread and rolls to distribute to friends and family. He especially loved baking with his granddaughter, Sonja.

Bill was a member of Vinje Lutheran Church, where he was active in the choir. He was also a member of the Kandi-O-Hi-Lo Chorus and West Central Connection Barbershop, where he filled in as director on occasion and was a member of several different quartets over the years.

Bill was an avid fisherman to the extent that nothing interrupted opening fishing with the Stinsons’ (Ken (LK), Dee, Ken (KJ), and Jude)… neither rain, nor snow, nor 30 mile-per-hour winds kept them off the lake.

Bill enjoyed designing and building everything from furniture to equipment for the laboratory. His insatiable curiosity led to many projects, some of which actually got completed.

He was dedicated to his family, taking care of Betty’s health for many years and he especially enjoyed time with his “Favorite Granddaughter”, Sonja.

He is survived by his daughter, Karen (Dean) Madsen of New London, son, Eric (Lin) Olsen of Fremont, CA, granddaughter, Sonja Madsen, sister, Lois (Bruce) Erickson, sister-in-law, Carolyn (Del), and many cousins.

Bill was proceeded in death by his wife of 48 years, Betty, his parents, and his brother, Del.

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