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James “Jim” Olson, 84, passed away on Dec. 30 at Grace Woodlands assisted living facility in Eau Claire, Wis. He died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease while in hospice care.

Jim was born in Menomonie, Wis. On Aug. 1, 1936 to Elsie (nee Jacobson) and Denver Olson and grew up on the family’s dairy farm in Wheeler, Wis. He attended elementary school in Wheeler and graduated from Colfax High School in 1954.

During his youth he enjoyed various sports, including motocross, ski jumping and basketball, which took advantage of his 6’4” height.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1957 and served through 1962. Part of his service included language school in California where he took classes to be a Russian linguist. While serving as an interpreter and translator, he intercepted a particularly exciting and significant radio message saying that Sputnik had officially launched.

He married Kathleen Adler in 1966. The two spent more than three decades living in St. Louis Park, Minn. and raised their son Erik there. Jim was employed in several fields but had a successful career in the business world. He particularly enjoyed the two decades he spent working for Tescom Corporation’s high purity division.

Jim was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting and fishing and shared those interests with his family. He taught his son to hunt and introduced him to skating and skiing at the age of 3.

Fatherhood suited Jim because of his patient nature and ability to offer both independence and guidance as needed. He was a constant presence in Erik’s life, coaching sports teams, teaching him to drive and attending his many concerts and recitals. He loved music himself, especially jazz.

Curious and smart, Jim was able to talk with anyone about almost any topic. He was also a wonderful listener who made everyone he spoke with feel important. He had a calm, even-keeled demeanor, a hearty laugh and a great beard.

Jim’s gentle, friendly personality will be missed dearly by everyone who knew him.

He is survived by his wife Kathleen of Eau Claire, their son Erik (Tanya) of Las Vegas, grandchildren Sydney and Caleb, his brother Bill (Linda) of Menomonie and many nieces and nephews.

A family service is being planned. The Cremation Society of Minnesota is serving the family.

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