Roger Allen Olson, 75, of Fergus Falls, passed away Saturday, May 1st at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo. Born in Fergus Falls on October 31, 1945, Roger was the middle child and only son of Myrtle and Leonard “Butch” Olson.
Roger lived with his parents and sisters Barbara and Beverly in Battle Lake. He graduated in 1963 from Battle Lake High School where he was an all-star athlete in basketball, baseball, and football. Roger loved sports as well as academics, earning a mathematics degree from Moorhead State University in 1967.
After college, Roger met the love of his life, Kathy Young. They married in Battle Lake on January 25, 1969. After a short time in Frazee, the newlyweds moved to Fergus Falls where their three children were born: a son, Steve, in 1971, son Mitch arrived in 1975, and daughter Kim completed the family in 1977.
As a math teacher and coach at Fergus Falls Middle School, Roger taught important lessons like “what you do unto the numerator, you must do unto the denominator.” Storyteller by nature, he could explain tough concepts in simple terms. He was a gifted coach, motivating his children, students, and athletes to try their hardest and be proud of their efforts.
Tragedy struck when Roger’s beloved wife Kathy died suddenly at the age of 36 on July 6, 1984. With the support of lifelong friends Pat and Laurie Thompson and Ed and Sig Winjum, Roger grew determined to raise his kids on his own so they would never feel neglected. He taught them life skills, fostered independence, and provided a safe, welcoming home. He wanted his children to be good people.
Roger continued teaching math and coaching basketball, baseball, football, and golf. He was awarded Coach of the Year for 1983-1984. He held the titles of Middle School Athletic Director and Dean of Students. Even with these commitments, Roger put all three kids through college and saw each of them happily married with families of their own. “The best thing my kids ever did was make me a grandpa.”
Roger dedicated his life to family and community. After a 42-year teaching and coaching career, Rog was recognized in the Fergus Falls Public Schools Hall of Fame for Distinguished Service. Even after retirement, Roger Dodger was the voice of Otter Football as a color commentator with broadcasters Craig Olson and Mark Johnson. Roger liked to travel to Las Vegas in the winter. He loved being with his grandsons in Fergus Falls and visiting Kim’s family in Cincinnati and Mitch’s family in California.
Despite the heartbreak of losing his wife, Roger adopted the motto “Life Is Good.” His pure and noble rules for living carried a timeless wisdom. “Fair is not equal,” he would say. “If you don’t want to have fun, don’t come.” And the ever important, “You’ve got to accept people for who they are.” These “Rogerisms,” as they came to be known, echo far beyond the walls of his classroom and favorite chair.
Roger is preceded in death by his father Leonard “Butch” Olson, wife Kathy Olson, mother Myrtle Olson, and sister Barbara Beeson. Survivors include sister Beverly Donnellan; son Steve, daughter-in-law Lynne Olson, and grandsons Jake and Ethan; son Mitchel, daughter-in-law Karin Olson, and grandsons Freddy and Hunter; and daughter Kim, son-in-law Paul White, and granddaughters Kate, Lauren, and Ella.
Memorial Service: Monday, July 5 at 2:00 PM, Glende-Nilson Funeral Home, Fergus Falls. Visitation 2 hours prior to service.
In lieu of flowers, please send memorial donations to the 544foundation.org.
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