Harris Donald Olson

Harris Donald Olson passed away September 9, 2011 in East Lansing, Michigan.  Harris was born on January 27, 1925 in Albert Lea, Minnesota to Gotfred Olson and Ella (Conrad) Olson.  He graduated from Albert Lea High School in 1943.  He was enlisted into the U.S. Army and reported to active duty in July 1943.  He served in the 89th Chemical Mortar Battalion in the states and Western Europe.  He was active for 2 ½ years and inactive for 3 years.   Upon his return the GI Bill enabled him to attend college and earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stout State College (now known as University of Wisconsin-Stout).  At Stout he met and married Doris, his wife of 60 years, who preceded him in passing in 2007.  Doris was also a Stout student and Minnesota native.  Following graduation Harris moved his young family to the Ypsilanti area.  Initially he taught at YHS, and then he began working at The University of Michigan first in the Electrical Engineering Department and then in the Office of the Registrar, retiring in 1987 with the title of Associate Registrar.  He was proud of the education U of M students receive.

Harris was involved with his professional group CUMREC, attended the Ypsilanti First United Methodist Church and enjoyed the gatherings of the U of M retirees.  He and Doris traveled in the states frequently by their beloved motor home or by barge, as well as Western Europe, Mexico, and Malta.  Also, he was a skilled woodworker making furniture, games and gifts for friends and family.  He performed many remodeling projects in their home.  In addition, he was a vegetable and flower gardener, beekeeper, and could repair items from a child’s necklace to his garden tractor that featured a muffler made out of a coffee can.  He was a fan of the Detroit Tigers and Lions and particularly The University of Michigan football and basketball teams.

Harris was preceded in death by his parents, wife, and brother Howard Olson.  He is survived by his children, Carolyn Willoughby (John), Jim (Margo), Eric, and Barbara Johnson (Bob); his grandchildren, Jeff, Janet, Greg, Laura, Ben, and Christopher; great-grandchildren, Maya, Annika, Katherine, and Thomas; brother-in-law, Warren (Dorothy) Avenson; and three nieces and three nephews.

The family thanks the staff of Silver Maples Retirement Community for being so kind and caring during the years he lived there, the staff of Burcham Hills CHR for his recent care, Sparrow Hospice for his final care, and Dr. Dennis Perry.  Cremation has taken place and to honor his and Doris’ last wish, their final interment will be at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, MN.  Together, they will return to their beloved Minnesota one last time.  A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, September 17, 2011 at Silver Maples, 100 Silver Maples Drive, Chelsea, MI 48118. The family will greet guests at a reception following the service.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the following groups:  Silver Maples Retirement Community, Sparrow Hospice Services, Burcham Hills Foundation, First United Methodist Church of Ypsilanti, MI, Frank B. Martin CUMREC Fellowship in care of Michigan State University, or a charity of your choice. Arrangements by Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel.

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