Roger Joseph Olson

Roger Joseph Olson, 84, Leavenworth

Roger Joseph Olson, a man who loved to golf, sing and tell stories, died Monday, June 27, at Leavenworth Medicalodge. He was 84 years old and a Leavenworth resident for 46.

The story he enjoyed telling most started with his Army regiment marching up the Alcan Highway over the Alaskan tundra to the finale in Fort Richardson: his marriage to his wife, Nancy Wilson Olson, in May 1952.

Olson loved his wife and his family, but his passion was golf. He was a member of the Ft. Leavenworth Golf Club, where he had a 16 handicap at the height of his game. He made his first hole-in-one there in 1990. He took time out from golf to serve as announcer at horse shows where his wife and two daughters competed. But he never played another round after a 2003 knee-replacement surgery led to the amputation of his left leg.

The loss gave him another story line. “Titanium,” he would exclaim, when telling a new acquaintance about his computerized prosthesis. This third event in a string of health setbacks led to his motto: Never, never, never give up. A friend who visited him the day before he died told him: “You have a warrior’s heart.”

A retired Army lieutenant colonel, he was a Leavenworth Rotarian for more than 35 years and honored with a Paul Harris Fellowship. He liked to refer to himself as Rotary’s emeritus sergeant major at arms. He served on the Leavenworth City Planning Commission and was a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and the Cody Choraliers. He followed his 28 years in the Army with 33 as a New York Life insurance agent.

Olson was born Sept. 26, 1926, in Mason City, Iowa. His love for music started as a child, when he played piano duets with his twin sister, Shirley. He was an Eagle Scout and played football for Davenport, Iowa, High School and Iowa State University. His college education was interrupted when he was drafted during World War II. After graduation, he returned to his Army career. He later served as company commander of the 8th Army/United Nations Honor Guard in Seoul, Korea. In recent years, he attended its reunions and had planned to be at its September event.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years; his daughter, Ann, and her husband, John Pancake, of Virginia; his daughter, Janie Caudle, her husband, Roger of Prairie Village, Kan.; two grandchildren, Becca Caudle of Prairie Village, and Joseph Caudle and his wife, Morgan; two great-grandsons, Thomas and John Caudle of Texas; a sister-in-law, Jane Cooper of Seattle; and several nieces.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 30, 2011, at the R.L. Leintz Funeral Home, 4701 10th Ave. The rosary will be prayed at 6 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be at noon Friday at St. Joseph Catholic Church with Rev. David McEvoy, O.Carm., as celebrant. Burial with full military honors will follow at Leavenworth National Cemetery at the Eisenhower Veteran’s Administration. A buffet reception at the church will follow. Instead of flowers, the family suggests donations to St. Joseph Catholic Church, the American Heart Association or Leavenworth Catholic Charities.