Story Magazine - First Quarter, 2007

Earl B. Olson, Longtime Friend of Luther Seminary, Dies

by Laura Kaslow, Communication Specialist

The Olsons' gifts are a testament to their belief in the mission of Luther Seminary to educate leaders for Christian communities. "The Olsons' generosity helped to put Luther Seminary on a solid financial footing," said Richard Bliese, Luther Seminary President. "Their gifts were simply invaluable to this school and to its mission to educate leaders for the church. Their gifts were an important endorsement of the seminary's mission and a strong encouragement to others that this was a place worthy of that level of support."

There is a saying that "those who give early, give twice." Through the Olsons' initial gifts to the seminary, they provided generous financial support. Perhaps even more importantly, these gifts also served as a witness to others that Luther Seminary was deserving of significant gifts and had the capacity to use them wisely.

Kathy Hansen, Vice President for Seminary Relations and Executive Director of the Luther Seminary Foundation, noted the impact of Earl's deep faith and churchmanship.

"We mourn the passing of Earl B. Olson whose energy, imagination and generosity strengthened not only Luther Seminary but also Concordia College and so many other institutions of the church."

Earl and Dorothy's first major gift to the seminary was to fund the Olson Campus Center, which was dedicated in 1994. The gift was given through a charitable remainder trust to endow the maintenance and operation of the building, which is the central  gathering place on campus.

The second major gift given by the Olsons was an endowment to mark the 10th anniversary of President Emeritus David Tiede's leadership of Luther Seminary. The fund became part of a permanent endowment fund for the seminary, providing  support for the staff and activities of the office of the president.

The Olsons' final major gift was through their estate for the Earl and Dorothy Olson Endowed Fund for Biblical Preaching. Earl and Dorothy appreciated pastoral leadership and faithful preaching at their congregation, Vinje Lutheran Church,Willmar, Minn., and other congregations in West Central Minnesota that were part of their lives. Through this endowed fund, Luther Seminary will be able to encourage the formation of excellent biblical preachers.

The Olsons' gifts to Luther Seminary were abundant and their legacy will be remembered. Earl didn't find it necessary to give an elaborate explanation for their charitable gifts, but rather would say, "We gave because they needed it.We saw this as a good investment for the future of the church."

As the Gospel of John says, "the one who says he abides in him ought himself walk in the same manner as He walked." With their generous hearts and love for Christ's work in the world, Earl and Dorothy Olson certainly walked in this manner throughout their lives. Thanks be to God for the life and witness of Earl B. and Dorothy Olson!