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W. Donald Olsen

September 23, 1910 December 20, 2009
W. Donald Olsen
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Obituary for W. Donald Olsen

W. Donald Olsen, former president of Worthington Community College, now Minnesota West Community and Technical College, died Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009, at Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls, S.D.  He was 99.
A passionate advocate of education, Mr. Olsen served as dean and later president of the community college from 1944 to 1975.  During his tenure, he supervised the establishment of the college on its present sixty-acre tract and its accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges.  While he was president, the college began its association with Minnesota Public Radio and for almost twenty years hosted the National Junior College Wrestling Tournament, which became an annual community event.
While the college was still a division of the local school district, Mr. Olsen became active in the Minnesota Association of Junior Colleges, which he led at various times.  He was chairman of its legislative committee, which lobbied the state legislature for the financial support of junior colleges, an effort that achieved final success when the State of Minnesota accepted full responsibility for supporting a community college system statewide.
In addition to devoting his efforts to community colleges, Mr. Olsen served a term as head of the Minnesota Association of Colleges and Universities, which included all the institutions of higher learning in the state.  He was a charter board member and served for over thirty years on the board of the Southwestern Minnesota Mental Health Center, which provides services to four southwestern Minnesota counties.  He was a member of the Kiwanis club for more than fifty years, serving a term as its president.  He was a member of First Lutheran Church and served on the church council and as a Sunday school teacher for adults.  
Born in Minneapolis, Sept. 23, 1910, Mr. Olsen graduated from Augsburg College and later received a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Minnesota.  Before coming to Worthington, he taught science courses in various Minnesota public schools.  He was principal of Fulda High School when he met his future wife, Glenda Ileen Aamodt, who was teaching in the elementary school.  Married Aug. 12, 1939, he and his wife celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary together this year.
Mr. Olsen was a devoted husband and father.  He is proceeded in death by his wife, who died Sept. 11, 2009, and he is survived by his daughter, Sandra Looney, of Sioux Falls, S.D.; his son, Rodney Olsen, of Arlington, Va.; his granddaughter, Anja Ismert of Kansas City,  Mo.; his grandson, Aaron Looney of Wustenhausen, Germany; his great-granddaughter, Marin Ismert, of Kansas City, Mo.; his great-grandson, Samuel Ismert, of Kansas City, Mo.; and his great-granddaughter, Hilda Looney, of Wustenhausen, Germany.
Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesday at First Lutheran Church, Worthington. The service will at 11 a.m. Wednesday at First Lutheran Church, Worthington, with the Rev. Richard Ricker officiating.  Burial will be in Hills of Rest Memorial Park, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Benson Funeral Home, Worthington, is in charge of the arrangements


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