Erling Olaf Olsson

MARQUETTE, Mich. – Erling Olsson, son of Manuel and Minnie Olsson, was born 10 September, 1922, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, died 16 January, 2013. He attended public schools in South Minneapolis graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1940. In view of the times, he thought it best to also enroll in the ROTC program which offered a stipend if one got into the Advanced Corps. To be in the ROTC program he also joined the Civilian Reserve Corps (in action status). His unit was called to active duty April 9, 1943, but he and a friend were held back for lack of proper sized shoes at Fort Snelling. Later they rode a troop train to Camp Wallace, Texas near Galveston for Basic Training and training on the 40 mm artillery unit in defense against strafing type aircraft.

There was not much need for anti-aircraft artillery so there was no room in the officer candidate school. While waiting he was assigned to the government sponsored ASTP program at the U of MN to pursue the technical program began earlier. On January 1, 1944 he got orders to Officer Candidate School at Camp Davis, N. Carolina. Upon being commissioned First Lieutenant, he was briefly assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas.

During this time he took a short leave to be married to Ethel Mae Lysaker May 20, 1944 in Lacrosse, WI, and together they traveled back to Fort Bliss. Again, as control of the air war was gained, there was no need for an A.A. officer so he was transferred to the Infantry Training School at Fort Benning, Georgia, to learn infantry tactics and weaponry. After two months orders were received assigning him to Camp Maxey (Paris, Texas) as a training officer in th e 125th Infantry Regiment. Within two months orders were received for the overseas assignment from Fort Meade, Maryland.

From the Replacement Depot at Naples, Italy he was assigned to the 338th Regiment and 83rd Infantry Division as a platoon leader. At this stage of the war he was near Pisa, Italy in the North Apennines. From there they crossed the Po Valley and into the Southern Alps by war’s end.

Erling had enough points to be sent back to the USA for release, however he continued to be in the Reserve and with the Korean War was recalled to active duty at the Headquarters for guided missiles and AA School at Fort Bliss, Texas. From there he was assigned to be commander of HQ Bly of the 98th Anti-aircraft Artillery group as part of the Northern Hemisphere Defense (Alaska). After the requisite time he was returned home again at which time he gave up his Reserve Commission. Erling returned to the University of Minnesota to complete his work for his Bachelor of Chemical Engineering Degree.

For his service to his country, Erling received the Bronze Star with Cluster, the EAME Theater Medal with two Bronze Stars, the American Theater Medal, The Combat Infantry Badge, the Victory Medal and the Meritorious Unit Service Plaque.

Dad had a long and storied career as a chemical engineer that took him to Illinois for his entire career life. He was employed as a project engineer for M&O Paper briefly before moving on to Archer Daniels Midland and Ashland Oil and Sherex Chemical (all related). Upon his retirement in 1985, the CEO spoke telling that Erling Olsson probably knew more about plastics than anyone in the United States. So, then, Mom and Dad retired to the 150-year-old family heritage farm in Parkers Prairie, Minnesota for 25 years of active community life among family and dear friends.

Dad was a multi-faceted man. He was always a strong congregational leader in our Lutheran Churches. He loved animals especially his Labrador Retrievers and adopted cats. He was a fine gardener producing vegetables for our tables. He, the chemist, always had a wine-making operation going. He was also an artist, watercolorist, and wood carver. He read every inch of the newspaper.

Best of all he was a powerful family man who devoted all of who he was to our small family. EthelMae “Lee” passed on in 2009 after 60 years of life together. At that time, I brought Dad here to live with me in Marquette. Dad was in the excellent care of D.J. Jacobetti Veterans’ Home for the past 3 years. Surviving in sorrow are his two children Leslie Olsson White of Marquette, Michigan and Matt Olsson also of Marquette; and grandsons Daniel (Alexandra) White of Portland, Oregon and David White of Orlando, Florida.

The Lord bless and keep you. The Lord cause his face to shine upon you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.