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Olson, Phillip E. Rev. 1948 - 2021


Posted By: Joy Moore (email)
Date: 7/23/2021 at 15:19:47

Phillip E. Olson, 73, of rural Ossian, Iowa, died peacefully early Wednesday morning, July 21, 2021, at his home, surrounded by family.

Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m., on Monday, July 26, 2021 at the St. Peter Lutheran Church, 28873 State Street, Eldorado, IA 52175 with Rev. Mike Blair presiding. Burial will be in the First Lutheran Cemetery, rural Ossian.

Visitation will be from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m., on Sunday, July 25, 2021 at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Eldorado, IA.

Everyone attending is asked to please wear a mask.

Memorials may be made to Lutheran World Relief, ELCA World Hunger, St. Peter Lutheran Church or a local charity of your choice.

Phillip was born May 5, 1948, in Aberdeen, South Dakota, to Maurice and Arlene (Nelson) Olson. Phillip was baptized a Child of God on May 24, 1948, at Emmanuel Lutheran, Groton, South Dakota. He was the oldest of three children, and grew up on the family farm at Groton. He graduated from the Groton Area High School in 1966.

He attended Augustana College (now University) in Sioux Falls, S.D., earning a BA in English Literature in 1970. During his time at Augustana, he sang in choir and was on the staff of the Augustana Mirror, serving as assistant editor his junior year and editor of the paper his senior year. After a variety of short-term jobs (including selling dictionaries door-to-door), Phillip enrolled in Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, graduating in 1976.

On December 15, 1974, Phillip was united in marriage to Virginia “Ginny” Johnson in Dubuque, IA. He served his internship at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Greendale, Wisconsin. Phillip was ordained into the ministry of Word and Sacrament on September 12, 1976. His first pastoral call was to Immanuel Lutheran, Earlville, and Immanuel Lutheran, Delaware, IA (September 1976-December 1977). Phillip and Ginny’s first child, Ana, was born during their time in Earlville.

Phillip and Ginny were commissioned as missionaries of the American Lutheran Church (ALC) in December 1977. They received French language and culture training in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, France, from January-August 1978. While in France, their second child, Martha, was born. In November 1978, they began work as evangelists among the Fulani people in Senegal (West Africa), with the intention of being the first permanent couple serving on behalf of the ALC. Due to serious illness, the Olsons returned to the United States in March/April 1979.

In June 1979, Phillip was installed as pastor at Union State Line Lutheran, Petersburg, MN, and Palestine Lutheran, Dolliver, IA, where he served until August 1987. During their time in southwestern Minnesota, the Olsons had three more children: Maryn, Andrew and Amy.

The Olsons moved to rural Ridgeway, Iowa, in August 1987, where Phillip and Ginny served together in ministry with the Ridgeway Lutheran Parish (Peace, Madison and Orleans Lutheran Churches). Phillip had always wanted to have an Advent worship service in a barn, and the barn at the Ridgeway parsonage provided the perfect opportunity to make this happen. Despite the bitterly cold night, nearly 80 people filled the “church room” and hayloft of the barn that first December; this service became an annual and much-loved tradition. The family raised goats, and Phillip helped the children learn about milking, cleaning the barn, and the realities of raising animals.

During their 23 years in Ridgeway, Phillip was involved in many community activities, including the Winneshiek County 4-H and Youth Committee, Ridgeway Rental Housing, Cub Scout Scoutmaster, and Little League baseball coach.

Phillip also remained connected to the wider church throughout his ministry: he helped found and served as the chair of Lutheran Outdoor Ministries in Iowa (LOMI) and was on the EWALU Bible Camp board; served on Synod Council and synodical committees; was part of the LSS Flood Relief Committee that assisted survivors of the 1993 flood; and was involved in the synod’s Namibia Network. Phillip completed the intentional interim ministry certification in 2009.

Phillip was a voracious reader and passed his love of books to his children and grandchildren. Many hours were spent in the reading chair with a child snuggled up in his lap or all five perched on the arms of the chair. He read the Chronicles of Narnia to each child individually, and many books were read aloud as a family during the children’s growing up years. He also loved to sing, and was a member of the Luren Singing Society (a Norwegian-American male chorus), for several years. He was certified as a Master Gardener, active in the Community of Hope (Foods Resource Bank), and participated in the History and Literature (HAL) group in West Union.

In 2001, Phillip was diagnosed with prostate cancer. A variety of medical treatments, including some clinical trials and experimental treatments, managed the cancer for many years as life continued.

In late 2010, Phillip and Ginny moved to Waverly, Iowa, where Phillip served as Interim Pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church. In November 2011, Ginny was called as the interim pastor at St. Peter Lutheran, Eldorado, and First Lutheran, rural Ossian. They moved into the parsonage in Eldorado, with Phillip traveling between Waverly and Eldorado until he completed his interim ministry at Redeemer in February 2012.

Phillip served as a contract interim at Calmar Lutheran, Calmar, and Springfield Lutheran, rural Decorah, for five years. Ginny has continued to serve St. Peter since First Lutheran closed in May 2012.

He retired on July 17, 2017, but it only lasted six months, when he began serving half-time at West Clermont Lutheran, Clermont. In fall 2019, after learning the prostate cancer had metastasized into his bones, Phillip retired again. In September 2019, Phillip and Ginny moved into their “Chome,” the former First Lutheran Church, rural Ossian, which they renovated according to Phillip’s design into a beautiful home big enough to host the entire family.

After a fall at home in March 2021, two weeks in the hospital, and spinal surgery, Phillip made the decision to stop pursuing aggressive treatment and enter hospice. He went home on March 29, and had many good weeks with Ginny, their adult children, and grandchildren. The family is grateful to Winneshiek County Hospice and Mica Thompson, CNA, for their assistance in caring for Phillip, which made it possible for him to remain at home during these last months.

Phillip is survived by his spouse of 46+ years and partner in ministry, Ginny, and their children, Ana (Matthew Johnson) Olson-Johnson, Decorah, Martha (Tony) Jensen, Rochester, MN, Maryn (Angela Fulton) Olson, St. Louis, MO, Andrew (Janelle) Olson, Roseville, MN, and Amy Olson, Des Moines; grandchildren Rachel and Aaron Johnson, Aurora and Aleia Jensen, and Noelle, Sofia and Solveig Olson; sister Eileen (Ed) Brandt; sister-in-law Deb Mckeiver; cousin Julie Berry, cousin-in-law Roberta Olson, and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Maurice and Arlene; brother Roy; cousin David Olson; and cousin-in-law Jack Berry.

A man of deep and abiding faith who understood his identity first and last as Child of God, in Phillip’s words, he was “called home like a child at the end of the day.”

May his memory be blessed among us.

Source: Schluter-Balik Funeral Home database

First Lutheran Cemetery

Winneshiek Obituaries maintained by Bruce Kuennen.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

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