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Earl B. Olson

May 8, 1915 - Dec. 11, 2006

WILLMAR -- Earl B. Olson, 91, of Willmar died Monday at his home.

The service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Vinje Lutheran Church in Willmar. A private family burial will be at Fairview Cemetery.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Harvey Anderson Funeral Home in Willmar and for one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday. Memorials are preferred to American Cancer Society, Concordia College, Luther Seminary or Vinje Lutheran Church.

He was born May 8, 1915, on a farm north of Murdock to Olof and Anna (Anderson) Olson. He attended school in Murdock and graduated from the West Central School of Agriculture in Morris in 1932.

He married Dorothy Erickson on Sept. 17, 1938, in North Dakota. He was the founder of the Jennie-O Turkey Store and served as president and chief executive officer until 1974, when he became chairman of the board. He was chairman emeritus at the time of his death. He entered the turkey processing industry in 1949 in Willmar. He was a member of the board of directors of Jennie-O Turkey Store and past director of the International Trade Development Board, National Turkey Federation, Hormel Foods, Poultry and Egg Institute of America, Minnesota Poultry and Egg Association, past president and director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and National Poultry and Egg Association.

He contributed to churches, colleges, community projects, Concordia College of Moorhead and Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

He was a member of Vinje Lutheran Church in Willmar, where he served on various committees and was involved in the building of the present church. He also participated in establishing the YMCA in Willmar. He was past chairman of the board of directors of Bremer Bank in Willmar, past regent of Concordia College and past director of Boy Scouts of America Viking Council, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Camp Courage Society for Crippled Children, Willmar Community Golf Club, Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, and the YMCA.

He received many awards during his lifetime, including the WCCO Good Neighbor Award, the Sliver Beaver Award from Boy Scouts of America Viking Council, Minnesota Business Hall of Fame, the Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture from the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Swede of the Year, Gustavus Adolphus Honorary Doctorate and the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award established by the Kandiyohi County Economic Development Partnership.

He is survived by his children: Charles (and Sharon) Olson, Jeffry (and Pat) Olson, Bruce (and Carolyn) Olson, all of Spicer, Jennifer (and Jay) Novak of Medina, Michael Olson of Bemidji; 14 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; and one brother: LeVerne Olson of Murdock.

He was preceded in death by his wife; one granddaughter; and one sister.

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