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In Memory of Kenneth Olson

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Kenneth Orville Olson, age 80 of River Falls, WI, passed away peacefully in his sleep August 18, 2021, at the Kinnic Health and Rehab Center. Ken was born in New London, Wisconsin on January 30, 1941 to Orville and Helen (Bucholz) Olson. He grew up in Clintonville and Shawano, Wisconsin. After spending 3 years in the Army, he went to college at Baltimore State University. While in Baltimore, he met the love of his life, Terry L. Glotkowski, and they married September 14, 1964. They had two children, Carrie in 1965 and Eric in 1972.

In 1969, Ken accepted a position as Residence Hall Director at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. He was living with his family on campus May 4, 1970, the day the national guard killed 4 students and wounded 9. That day had a profound effect on him. In later years, he gave numerous interviews about the incident.

Ken left Kent State in 1976 and moved his family to River Falls, Wisconsin to become the Director of Housing at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. In 1998, Ken shifted gears to teach English at UWRF until he retired in 2014. Ken loved working at university and made lifelong friends with his former staff and students. He received many honors during his 38 years at the University and he was very proud of his tenure there. He loved his many trips with students to Ireland. Ken made a lot of friends in Ireland, and he truly enjoyed his time there.

In his spare time, Ken was an avid fly fisherman and spent a lot of time on the Rush River and the Kinni. Ken taught inner city children the joy of fly fishing during the summers. Ken, or as he was affectionately known, KO was a poet and writer as well as a voracious reader. He was active in the ACLU and was very passionate about equality and civil rights. He was a great husband and father, a loyal friend, a compassionate teacher and an amazing mentor. We will miss his sense of humor and sharp wit, his tenaciousness and his wisdom.

Ken will be dearly missed by his children, Carrie Anton and Eric Olson; his sister Lynn (Mark) Herrin; Sister-in-law Bobette (William) Hull; Nieces: Kristine Olson, Wendy (Jay Jensen) Olson and Robin (John) Wisneski; Granddaughters: Erin (Tyler) Geiger, Sydney McCutcheon and Clorissa Olson; Great Grandchildren: Micheal and Jared. Ken was preceded in death by his parents, Orville and Helen Olson, his wife Terry Olson (Glotkowski) and his brother William (Bobette) Olson.

Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. The family is monitoring the Covid-19 situation and will have a Memorial when it is safe to do so. Interment will take place at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to The ACLU or your favorite cause in Ken’s honor.

Cremation services provided by O’Connell Family Funeral Homes, www.oconnellfuneralservices.com, 715-273-4421


Kenneth's Tribute Wall

Tributes (5):

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  • Ken will always hold a dear place in my heart. He was my first boss, but he ended up being a great mentor and friend over the last 35 years. He helped shape who I am today! I have truly never met anyone else like him. He will be missed.

  • Ken was a wonderful colleague at UW-River Falls. I loved bumping into him on campus and having a quick chat to catch up. I loved his optimism, sense of humor, and how he cared about his students. I will miss seeing Ken. Rest in peace, my friend.

  • God speed KO. You were one in a million and I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor and friend. Oh, the memories!!!

  • I knew Ken, during my tenure as Assistant Director & Director of Housing, at UW-Whitewater. I always saw Ken as a genuinely caring human being. I was honored to have Ken as professional colleague and most importantly, a friend. I lost touch with Ken, after leaving Whitewater. I will always remember is wonderful smile.
    My heartfelt condolences to his family.