Cover photo for Harlan B. Olson's Obituary
Harlan B. Olson Profile Photo
1925 Harlan 2018

Harlan B. Olson

March 22, 1925 — December 11, 2018

Harlan B. Olson, 93, of Coon Valley passed away peacefully at home, into the embrace of our Lord Jesus, on Tuesday evening, December 11, 2018.  He was born March 22, 1925 in Westby to Chester and Hannah (Wang) Olson. Harlan attended grade school in Westby, was baptized and confirmed at Westby-Coon Prairie Lutheran Church and graduated from Westby High School in 1943. He enlisted in the army shortly thereafter, and served proudly in Patton’s 3rd Army, European Theatre of Operations, in WWII. Upon his return, he attended UW Madison. After college, he met a former schoolmate, Thelma Odegaarden, at Borgen’s Café in Westby. On August 23, 1952, they were married at Coon Valley Lutheran Church by Rev. Louis Mastad. The couple lived in Westby for several years before moving to Coon Valley, where they raised 4 children.

Harlan was a selfless and reverent man, devoted to his family. He was an excellent provider and a wonderful father, grandfather and great grandfather. He also loved nature. After pursuing an initial career as a research scientist for the Trane Company, he went back to college while supporting his family and working full-time, and received a Master’s Degree from UW-LaCrosse. He spent decades doing what he loved – teaching school at Viroqua, Desoto and Westby. He was an excellent Biology teacher and well respected by his students. He was the Hoofers Hiking Club leader, and passed on his lifelong tradition of hiking for exercise and enjoyment of nature.

Harlan was a volunteer fireman, a charter member of the Coulee Antique Engine Club, a member of the Coon Valley Lions Club, the American Legion and Coon Valley Lutheran Church. He and Thelma were also volunteers at Norskedalen Nature Center, where he helped to design the hiking trails, and to identify and tag the trees. Forever a teacher, he led hikes at Norskedalen way into his 80’s, where he taught young children about the beauty of nature. Harlan was also an excellent photographer and videographer, and he and Thelma put on many programs around the community and at Norskedalen.

Survivors include a sister, Marjorie Inglett of Rochester, MN; 4 children, Kathryn (Charles) Sexauer of Las Vegas, NV, Robert Olson of Coon Valley, Nancy Olson of Shell Lake, WI and Thomas (Sharon) Olson of Farmington, MN; 5 grandchildren, Alejandro (Monica Marino) Gonzalez of Atlanta, GA and Eduardo Gonzalez of Los Angeles, CA, Josiah (Audra) Olson of Chardon, OH,  Hannah (Joel) Carrizales of Burnsville, MN and Rebekah Olson of Farmington, MN; 3 great grandchildren, Elliot Olson, Elijah and Faith Carrizales, and several nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Thelma, a sister, Harriet Coleman and two brothers, Orrin Olson and LeRoy Olson.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday December 17, 2018 at the Coon Valley Lutheran Church with Rev. Julie Wolman officiating. Burial with military honors will follow in the church cemetery. Friends may call from 10 a.m. until time of service at the church. Online condolences may be offered at

Harlan lived life well, and will forever be remembered by family, friends, and students as a kind and compassionate man.

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, December 17, 2018

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

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Funeral Service

Monday, December 17, 2018

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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