Monday, Aug 22, 2016
August 09, 1922 - August 16, 2016
Kenneth Amos Olson of Mebane passed away early Tuesday morning while in residence at PEAK Resources Alamance. Dad had been a patient there since last November after surgery and a bevy of related issues. His bride of seventy-one years, Doris, was with him at PEAK as a respite care resident.
Dad was born in Barron County WI (1922) the son of Olaf and Bessie Olson. He grew up in Chetek WI. After graduating from high school Dad attended River Falls State Teacher’s College studying to become a chemistry teacher. He worked his way through school during summers at his grandfather’s vegetable cannery, and during the school year as leader of a band called “Tiny Dale and his Collegiate Hepcats”. He was a very good jazz and big-band style clarinetist.
After two years of school he joined the family business full-time performing repair and maintenance of cannery equipment. At that time his grandfather and father operated a cannery in Saukville WI where he met Doris Goemer. As was typical of small town WI, just about everyone worked at the cannery during harvest as did Mom, her parents and sister.
In 1943 he enlisted in the Army Air Force and became a bombardier on B-24 heavy bombers. He flew thirty combat missions over southern and eastern Europe. He was awarded the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and four campaign ribbons. At the end of the war in Europe his crew of ten flew their plane back to the US, and took thirty days leave prior to planned retraining in B-29s for the final push in the Pacific. During his leave he and Mom were married. Fortunately, he got to sit out his last few days in the service stateside as the war came to an end two months later.
He took a job as a “temporary” press operator with a manufacturer of heat transfer equipment retiring thirty-nine years later as CEO and Chairman of the Board. Shortly after Dad joined the company it, and he and Mom, relocated to Southern Illinois. During their years in Southern Illinois Dad and Mom made a great home for two sons, and also found time to participate in and lead various community organizations. While Mom focused most of her activities on leadership roles in the church, Dad, at various times, was a member of three different American Legion Posts; chaired the local Chamber of Commerce, was Vice Chair of the IL State Chamber Board; chaired the United Way; the YMCA; was District Activities Chair for the Boy Scouts, and was an active Elk, Moose, and Lion! He also was a founding director of a local bank.
In the mid 1980s Dad was hired by the Pietzcker family of Germany to lead the extension of their business into North America. Dad conducted a site study which resulted in the selection of Mebane to become the headquarters of AKG in the United States. During his years with AKG he directed construction of the factory, hired the initial employees, and established the customer base.
Mom and Dad remained in Mebane for their retirement years. Dad volunteered with Habitat for the Humanities and received their top volunteer award. Throughout his life he loved to work with wood. Mom would find a picture of some item in a catalog, Dad would draft precise engineering drawings, and build the piece of furniture, knick-knack, or ornament, and Mom would paint it.
In retirement Dad loved working in the yard and in his workshop, loved the company of his four grandchildren (Elana, Brian, Meredith, and Stephanie) and treasured highly his relationships with a few steadfast friends, and absolutely looked forward to the annual reunions of his WWII bomber crew, which he called the “greatest group of guys he had ever known.”
He is survived by wife Doris, sons Darrell (Janice) of Grafton WI, and Jon (Annette) of Saratoga CA, four grandchildren, two great-grandchildren (Piper and William), and four nieces.
A memorial service at Mebane Presbyterian Church is scheduled for 11AM on Monday, Aug. 22nd with visitation at 10:30AM.
It is suggested that memorials be directed to the Mebane Presbyterian Church or Habitat for Humanity of Alamance County NC.