The 1959 New Ulm Eagles’ baseball team that took third in the Minnesota State High School Tournament lost its shortstop and endeared teammate, Mike Olson, on May 3, after a courageous battle with Waldenstrom’s Syndrome. Mike passed peacefully near his home in Goodyear, Arizona.
Mike was born on April 24, 1943, in New Ulm, Minnesota, the third child of Carl and Gertrude (Garbrecht) Olson. He attended St. Paul’s Lutheran Elementary School, New Ulm High School through his junior year and graduated in College Park, Maryland in 1961. He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree with an English major from Mankato State in 1965. After two successful years of teaching in Bakersfield, California, Mike was drafted in 1967 and served in the United States Army. He was honorably discharged in 1969. After serving our country, he lived in Madrid and Malaga, Spain for two years before returning state side, where he taught high school English in lower Manhattan. He returned to New Ulm in 1972 where he courted and married Judy Jeanne Epp. Mike and Judy moved to Franklin when Mike was named the high school principal and then to Henderson where he served in the same position.
A passion for baseball was a constant thread throughout Mike’s life. In addition to the Eagles, he played for the New Ulm Legion, the Millers, the Brewers and coached numerous teams including: the Hutchinson VFW, where his oldest son, Tom, played; the New Ulm Legion and the South Mountain High School team in Phoenix, Arizona. He remained a diehard Twins fan.
Mike moved to Arizona in 1988 where he began teaching at South Mountain High School and South Mountain Community College. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he served the Phoenix Union High School District in many different capacities. During his two year term as President of the Phoenix Union High School District Classroom Teachers’ Association, teachers and classified staff received salary and benefit increases that were significantly higher than comparable districts in the state.
Mike was preceded in death by his parents Carl and Gertrude Olson, sister Corrine (Beckwith) and adopted son Tom. He is survived by his wife Estelle, Goodyear, Arizona; brother Jim, Anaheim, California; daughter Melissa, Minneapolis; son Sven, San Diego, California; former wife Judy Olson, St. Paul; step children Scott, Debbie, Mark and Glenn and granddaughter Piper.
Mike was a lifelong friend to many, including Dave Silcox of Phoenix, Arizona; Dennis and Arlene Sperl, New Ulm; Kenny Cordes, Shorewood, Minnesota; Jerry Dannheim, New Ulm; Patrick Smith, Chanhassen, Minnesota and many others.
Mike’s last wishes were that he be cremated, that no formal service be held and a glass be raised in his memory and honor. A gathering will be held in New Ulm at Turner Hall on August 13, beginning at 5 p.m where a glass or two will be so raised. Friends are invited to join the family to remember and celebrate Mike’s life. Friends may contact Dennis Sperl or Jerry Dannheim for additional information.