Julian David Olsen, of Rural Nicollet County, passed away peacefully on Friday, December 20 at Ecumen Pathstone in Mankato, at the age of 89, surrounded by his loved ones.
Funeral service will be 12:00pm Thursday, December 26, 2019 at Norseland Lutheran Church, Norseland with visitation beginning at 10:00 am. Burial will follow at the church cemetery. Condolences for the family can be left at www.saintpeterfuneralhome.com.
Julian was born November 20, 1930 to Alfred Christian Olsen and Elizabeth (Tjernagel) Olsen in St. Peter, Minnesota, and baptized into the Lutheran confession on December 7, 1930. He was confirmed in June, 1944 at Norseland Lutheran Church. He grew up on a farm in New Sweden township that was bursting with a diversity of plant and animal life, and a large cast of colorful human characters. His parents opened their home to a stream of people in need of shelter during The Depression and the First World War. In this environment, Julian developed curiosity about people. He said that as a child he preferred listening to the conversations of adults, to playing with his peers. This environment also nurtured in him a deep love of the land and the life that sprang from it.
He attended the Norseland Christian Day School from the ages of 7-14, and then began Bethany Lutheran High School in 1944. He graduated from the high school in 1948 and was awarded an AA degree from Bethany college in 1950. As a youth he was active in the New Sweden 4H Club, especially in 4H softball and the Dairy Project. A proud moment came when at age 17 in 1947, he won Grand Champion of the Minnesota State Fair with his cow, receiving a gold pocket watch and $300.
After graduating from Junior College, he returned home to join his father dairy farming. Gradually he took over the whole farm operation, but discontinued dairying in 1971.
He met the love of his life, LaVonne Kyrklund, who was a senior at Gustavus Adolphus College, in August of 1958, and it was not long before he knew he wanted to marry her. Theirs was one of several love connections between some Norseland farm boys and several Gustavus girls, all of the same group of friends! They married on August 20, 1960 and began a life together in a new house they had built on the farm place. The pair were active members of Young Couple’s Club (later “Couple’s Club), a group which gathers regularly to this day. This union was blessed with two children.
Over the years he poured his energy into his church, which he cared deeply about. He was a member of the Senior Choir and Men’s Choir and served in almost every church board and committee position imaginable. Julian was always willing to step up and do what needed to be done, as became evident in later years when he became instrumental in the Norseland Church narthex addition project. He was also a great believer in Christian education, paving the way for his children to attend Christian Schools, and serving faithfully on the MVL board of education. The fire beneath these pursuits was a deep faith his Savior.
He loved the rhythm of the growing season, gloried in watching the development of his crops, and felt deeply connected to the soil. He was also very good at problem-solving when it came to equipment and had an almost inexhaustible drive to stay at a problem or a job until it was fixed or completed. These qualities converged to make him an excellent farmer.
Once he retired from farming in 1998, he redirected that energy into gardening. Anyone who visited Julian and LaVonne’s home could bask in the beautiful fruits of this labor of love.
High atop the list of important things were people, primarily in later years spending time with his grandchildren, who were blessed to have grandparents so close at hand. He was ever interested in hearing stories and would strike up a conversation with any person he came across, telling his own interesting tales in return, tapping into his deep love of history and way with words. Julian was kindhearted and generous, talented yet humble. Above all, he was faithful to the tasks and the people God gave him.
Julian is survived by his wife LaVonne; daughter Solveig (John) Langr; son Erik (Sarah) Olsen, granddaughters Antonia Langr, Helena Langr, Ruby Langr; grandson Ethan Olsen; brother James (Mary) Olsen and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Julian is preceded in death by his parents A. Christian Olsen and Elizabeth Olsen; his sister Constance; In-laws Emery and Helen Kyrklund, and a stillborn baby daughter.
The family requests that any memorials be directed to Bethany Lutheran College or Norseland Lutheran Church.