School 21

Richard "Rich" John Olson

April 21, 1948 ~ May 25, 2022 (age 74)


Rich Olson age 74, of Nowthen, MN, passed away at home on May 25, 2022 with his family and pet cat, surrounded by love. Rich was diagnosed with an aggressive and rare form of multiple myeloma in late December. Our family is grateful for every moment we had with him and for his healthy and joyful life prior to this disease.

Rich was born on April 21, 1948 and adopted by Chester and Francis Olson of Nowthen. He grew up playing every sport imaginable and met his wife, Judy, at four-years-old at her neighboring farm. Judy and Rich were high school sweethearts, sharing 53 years of marriage, two daughters, and a lifetime of adventure. Whether sailing the Galapagos islands, biking across Europe, canoeing in Quetico Provincial Park or simply watching swallows dive and soar across the fields at home—they were inseparable partners and best friends.

Rich taught physical education at Brimhall Elementary School in Roseville for 34 years. He poured his heart into public education to ensure all children experienced equal parts learning and magic at Brimhall. An accomplished pianist, he co-directed musical productions with his colleague Dr. John Nyberg. He ran track meets, field days and cross country meets, and wrote curriculum still used today. Nothing made him happier than connecting with children—seeing students thrive and gain confidence in themselves. Rich continued to volunteer at Brimhall after retirement and stayed in contact with many teachers, former students and families. The community he helped build at Brimhall was one of the greatest honors of his life.

Rich was talented in ways that defied expectation. As a teenager he was the quarterback, shortstop and point guard at St. Francis High School, but he was also a pianist who could sight read complex music, He embraced canoeing, skiing, fishing, birding, golf, coaching softball, music, gardening, and reading. Rich loved animals, and animals loved him. He was mostly up for trying new things, as long as they looked fun and didn’t involve certain flavor combinations.

As a person, Rich believed both words and actions have meaning. He was deeply compassionate, and he never looked away from human struggle. He loved his children and grandson, loved the students he taught, and thought daily about the world we will leave to future generations. To remember and honor him, ask yourself how you can best help others here on earth. The time we have is brief, fragile, inequitable, and full of beauty. Your choices matter.

Rich is predeceased by his parents and sisters Beverly Cooper and Lois Olson. He is survived by his wife Judy (Wirz) Olson, daughters Annie Olson (Mike Sullivan) and Betsy Swartout (Lenny Crouse) and grandson Finn Richard Sullivan. He leaves behind more family and friends than we can count who adore him. He was lucky to have grown up in a family that loved him and to have met many biological relatives in the last decade of his life who also loved him as they helped connect pieces of his past. We want to note the special relationships he shared with his brother-in-law and partner in pranks, Harry Wirz (Cindy) and brother-in-law Jim Cooper—as well as the lifelong friendships with his Brimhall family.

We will hold a celebration of life on July 9, 2022 at Centennial United Methodist Church in Roseville with visitation at 10 AM and service at 11 AM. Rich would want you to remember there is much to celebrate around us; in the blooming flowers and singing birds and in the genuine and authentic connections between people. Be good to each other.

Memorials are suggested to a fund in his name at Brimhall Elementary School that will support physical education, music and classroom enrichment projects. Checks can be sent to Brimhall Elementary School PTA 1744 County B West, Roseville, MN 55113 or brought to the memorial service.

Finally, our family encourages everyone able to donate blood, support healthcare workers with kindness, and work together as a society to protect the most vulnerable among us.

To send flowers to the family, please visit our floral store.


Celebration of Life
July 9, 2022

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Centennial United Methodist Church (Roseville)
Guaranteed delivery before the Celebration of Life begins

Memorial Service
July 9, 2022

11:00 AM
Centennial United Methodist Church (Roseville)
Guaranteed delivery before the Memorial Service begins

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