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Voyageur's Best Features of 2003


Gone but not forgotten
Rory Olson’s family and friends share their thoughts
by Cynthia Brekke  |  July 8, 2003

It was the kind of event where, by the end, nearly a corner of a tissue was not moistened, nor a dry eye to be found. The grieving family, friends and acquaintances gathered to say their final farewells to 33-year old Rory Sam Olson on Mon., June 30, in the new gymnasium at McGregor High School. Ironically, it would be the first, public event held in the new facility, at the school where Rory graduated in 1988.

Over 900 people were in attendance. Mourners waited in line to pay their final respects, as they walked past Rory. This was almost a repeat of the scene from the night before, at the visitation, when the line of people extended out of the funeral home, onto the sidewalk, and down the street.

The morning of June 25 probably began as most did for the Olson family and for Terry Boyes, Rory’s business partner and life-long friend. On that day, there was a seamless gutter job to do. But the afternoon would take a terrible twist, as Rory suddenly collapsed, due to an aneurysm. “Even if we had known about it, there would have been nothing that could have been done,” said Jack Olson, Rory’s father. “It was inoperable.”

A community in shock
The news of the tragedy spread like wildfire throughout the community and beyond. As it did, shock and disbelief turned to sadness and grief. It was unfathomable. The community began reaching out to the Olson family with overwhelming support, and friends expressed their sorrow for the loss. What was it about Rory that evoked such a wave of response from an entire community? The words of those who knew him can help explain it best.

To me, Rory was the best, loyal, true friend; my partner, co-worker and buddy. I will miss him immensly in every way.

He always made things fun, even when we were struggling to make a buck, doing some !@*%#-/?!#@ job. He could find humor where I thought there was none... especially when it was at my expense (which, it usually was).

We always tried to look out for each other, and I will do my best to look out for the things that meant the most to him.

May you rest in peace, until we meet again.

Your Friend, Terry Boyes

Rory’s influence spread far and wide, and touched a variety of people. “It didn’t matter what you wore... or what color your skin was,” Judy Olson recalled of her son.

On June 25, 2003, I lost a life-long friend, Rory Olson. All the memories and good times we had together, from riding, racing, snowmobiling, mud-bogging, ripping and tearing around in our cars... those long, long days in school, which neither of us seemed to enjoy... Rory was always up-beat and had a fun, positive attitude. Rory had that power... the one that just made you want to be around him.

He was an influence for many. Receiving the Eagle carving from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, their highest honor, shows the impression he left on whoever he met and where ever he went.

Yes, on June 25, I lost a life-long friend, but the world lost a very good man. Rory Olson, a husband, a father, a son, a friend... Rory Olson, a love for life, an outdoorsman, a racer. It was an honor to be his friend. He will be sadly missed but never forgotten!

Glen DeMenge
... Rory never worried about how a person was dressed. We all remember him with torn-off sleeves (... daddy, I have to go potty. Where’s the toilet paper?)... grease on his pants (no rags to be found)... mud on his boots, a grin on his face (who can I tease next?), and a twinkle in his eyes...

Stacy (Olson) Mickelson
Fond memories

For one so young, it seems that Rory Olson packed a lot of living into the years he was here... and he made sure anyone within arms reach did the same. He was a consumate prankster to everyone close to him, male or female. As his sister, Stacy Mickelson, stated in her eulogy at Rory’s service:

Inside every man is a little boy, who wants to come out and play... Rory was always mischievious to the women in his life – and that started with me, in our younger years and, of course, it didn’t stop. Always poking, joking and teasing...

Mom got the dirty socks in her face, that he had hid under the covers, when she would go to tuck him in at night. It was a dirty sock thing. I remember one night, when he was living with us, I came in the apartment and his socks were rotten! I asked him to please, put them out in the hallway. Well, you know where Rory put them? In my bedroom, and shut the door!

Then, Kim got the brunt of it for the last 11-years and, as his girls got older, he was getting a taste of his own medicine... but, we all love him for that!

Home is where the heart is
Rory Olson was laid to rest at the home he loved and shared with his wife of 11-years, Kim, and their two children, 10-year old Karina and six-year old, Randeena. This was his wish, and was achieved by having an approximately two-acre piece of the property designated as a cemetery plot, called ‘Hidden Oaks.’ The peaceful, serene spot is on the edge of the treeline, overlooking the wide field, and just a short walk from the trapping shed he spent so much time in with his family.

A word that best describes the home and his lifestyle is passion. Rory had a passion for life, for his wife and children, for his family, friends, and people in general... for the outdoors, nature, and all the things that could be enjoyed in life. One could say that he had so much passion he could not keep it to himself, and showered it on all those he came in contact with. He was contagious.

I love my dad very much. He is very tall and is not the kind of person who lies. He is cool and is neat, caring and funny.

He is very, very loving and he works and gets dirty. He gets dirty because he works in the dirt a lot. Then he takes a shower and smells good.

I know he loves me, because he tells me that he loves me all the time. He always will love me and I love him very much, and I always will.

Karina Olson – May, 2002

Standing in the middle of the downstairs, trophy room with Kim, one has a sense of all the happy memories Rory has left his family. Kim recalled a story for every mount she pointed to, proudly and lovingly. Rory was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying hunting, trapping, fishing, fourwheeling and snowmobiling. But he especially enjoyed these things with ‘his girls’ and passed his passion along to them. As was written in the funeral service program: “Rory’s love for the outdoors was only overshadowed by his love for his family.”

Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a daddy... and that he was! He was a very devoted daddy and proud of his girls... and there IS a special bathroom in Heaven for a father of girls.

excerpt from Stacy’s eulogy

He may have had only 33 years, but Rory seemed to have made the most of the time he had... and maybe that’s what others can take away from his loss, to celebrate and honor his life with.

This article first appeared in the July 8, 2003 issue of the Voyageur Press.