Howard E. Olson
December 27,1944 – December 17, 2015
Howard Earl Olson, 70, passed away on Thursday, December 17 at his home in Prior Lake from plasma cell leukemia. Born on December 27, 1944 in Gaylord, MN, Howard was the third son of Dr. Duane and Lyndis Olson. Howard always valued the childhood years that he spent growing up in the small town. As a child and grandchild of family doctors Howard had early exposure to the compassionate service of medicine, accompanying his father on house calls and medical emergencies.
During Howard’s sophomore year of high school, the family moved to Edina and Howard graduated from Edina HS in 1962. He then attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, receiving a B.A. in 1966. He went on to earn his doctorate from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in 1970.
While a sophomore at St. Olaf College, Howard met Deirdre Lellman, a freshman. They dated off and on for five years and after a fairytale engagement in Europe, Deirdre and Howard were married at St. Allban’s Anglican Church in Copenhagen, Denmark, on July 29, 1969. They recently celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary.
In 1971, desiring to live in a small lake community, they moved with their one-year-old son, Chad, from Minneapolis to Prior Lake where Howard opened his dental practice in a small space in the former Methodist Church building. At first Deirdre answered the office phone from their duplex while caring for their young son. Soon the family grew with the births of daughters Aimee and Anna.
The dental practice also grew and in 1977 Howard moved his practice to a much larger space in the Gateway Building . He loved his profession and was always intrigued with the latest advances in dentistry. In 1988, Howard developed and marketed a disinfection product for dental offices called Denta-Sleeve which is still being used today by dentists around the country.
He also greatly enjoyed and appreciated the long friendly relationships he developed with his patients. He was fortunate to have son Chad join him in the practice in 1997. They partnered together at Olson Dental for 12 years before Howard reluctantly retired due to his illness. Howard served his patients for 40 years.
Activity was Howard’s passion and he enthusiastically engaged in soaring, flying and aerobatics, lake and ocean sailing and racing, sailboarding, scuba diving, waterskiing, kayaking, snow skiing, road biking, hiking, tennis and finally golf. He was his own fiercest competitor and constantly challenged himself. He exemplified the message that was on so many of his hats and shirts, “Life is Good”.
He also had a love of travel and the family enjoyed many trips around the country. California was a frequent destination where many happy days were spent. When the children were on their own, Howard and Deirdre created wonderful memories traveling together, especially trips to Europe.
The welcome arrival of 8 grandchildren in 7 years expanded the family circle and “Bupa” loved chasing Clayton, Molly, Henry, Armaan, Ariana, Azara, Peter and Nick around as much as they loved being chased. He regretted that because of the cancer he wasn’t able to do many of the activities that he wanted to introduce to and enjoy with his treasured grandchildren. When the first grandchildren were just toddlers, he bought a tent which he set up in the house. He was as excited as a little kid about the prospect of taking them camping and hiking one day.
He was a life-long student and was especially interested in history, sharing facts and engaging in intriguing conversations. His family and friends will remember and miss his unique sense of humor, his contagious laugh and his love of life.
Howard never let the cancer define him. He took on the 6-year challenge with a rare and aggressive blood cancer with determination and a positive and courageous spirit. He had a special gift for showing others how to meet adversity with dignity, grace, and a bit of laughter. He never lost his joy in life or joy in his family.
Howard was preceded in death by his parents and his mother and father-in-law. Howard is survived by his wife, Deirdre, his son Chad (Neda) Olson of Prior Lake; daughter Aimee (David) Horstman Olson of St. Louis Park, and daughter Anna Olson of Edina; his brothers Richard Paul (Mary) Olson and Charles (Carol) Olson; his brother-in-laws Mark (Lisa) Lellman, Bruce (Andrea) Lellman; his grandchildren Armaan, Ariana, Azara Olson, Clayton, Molly, Henry Horstman Olson, Peter and Nicholas Benninghoff; and his nieces and nephews.
The family will greet friends at Ballard-Sunder Funeral Home in Prior Lake on Monday, December 21 from 4-7 p.m. Reverend A. Paul Olson will officiate at a family service and private interment at Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis.
The family requests that gifts in memory of Howard be designated for multiple myeloma research at the Mayo Clinic. Memorials can be directed to the family, made online at www.mayoclinic.org/development or mailed to Department of Development, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St. SW, Rochester, MN 55905.Print Obituary & Condolences