Richard Olson Obituary

Richard  E.
Richard "Dick" Olson
Richard E. "Dick" Olson

August 3, 1929 - August 5, 2014
Born in Aurora, IL
Resided in Des Moines, IA
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August 3, 1929, started off warm and a little muggy, but hadn't become the blistering hot summer day that it was destined to be in Aurora, Illinois. On this day, Dallas Olson gave birth to a son, Richard Elmer. His proud father, Elmer, was thrilled to add another son to the growing family, which now included "Richie," as he would be known, and an older brother Lou. If you believe in horoscopes, baby Richie roared to life in true Leo, the lion, form. He was destined from the beginning to leave his mark. He lived 85 years and two days, and bookended into the middle was an amazing life.

Richie didn't get the time to know his father, who died just six months later. The two brothers were then raised by their German grandparents, Louis and Emma Bargholz.
He grew up much like kids did during the Depression years – they didn't have much but they didn't seem to need much either. They swam in the Fox River, played pickup games of all sorts, and Richie looked forward to his yearly birthday indulgence of his grandmother's chocolate cake with white frosting.

As he grew older, it became apparent that Richie (now known as "Dick" or "Ole") was a gifted athlete and a natural leader. As a star of West Aurora High School's undefeated 1946 football team, he claimed first team all-state honors and was voted MVP of his conference. Most citizens of Illinois felt he had already reached the highest pinnacle – his flame could not burn much brighter.

Academics were a means to an end. Good grades kept you eligible. Because of his prowess in football, he had a chance at a college education. He became the first in his family to attend college, graduating from Drake University in January, 1952.

Dick became a leader off the field when he became president of his fraternity. More luck came his way on a crisp fall evening when he met a dark-haired beauty – Cleojean Meredith from Des Moines. Although Dick pretended to play it cool with Cleo – when dropping her off after dates he would say, "See ya around campus," – it was clear he had met his soul mate.
After his senior year, he and Cleojean were married. It was assumed that Uncle Sam was in his future, but a severe football injury to his knee left him disappointed and looking for work.

Dick went to work for 3M, traveling and selling the warehouses out of heavy-duty scotch tape dispensers and making bows in grocery stores out of the new Sasheen ribbon. It seems Dick Olson was quite a salesman! Banker's Life (now The Principal Group) was calling his name.

Dick loved sales, and insurance was a perfect fit. However, he knew he needed more than his personality to make it. He began to watch successful people. He noticed their attire, their speech, and how they presented themselves. He became an avid reader.
At Banker's Life he flourished. He found that what he did changed lives, saved families, and saved businesses. As a manager, he liked challenging people and helping them reach their potential. He was full of motivational ideas, but believed they were of no use if you did not believe in what you were selling. He often said, "Whenever you help another person up a hill, you inevitably get closer to the top yourself." But his mantra truly was, "Life is about habits. If you do not consciously form good habits, you will unconsciously form bad ones." (Albert Gray) Richard Olson embodied the principles of success, which helped his agency to become the most successful agency in the history of Principal Financial.

He was passionate about life – making an impact, making life better for everyone. He was always looking for a better way. Revitalizing downtown Des Moines was his priority. He was a visionary who created excitement and showed people what Des Moines could become. Skywalks, Civic Center, Botanical Garden – when he dreamed, he dreamed big.

As a Regional Chairman on the U.S. Olympic Committee, Dick raised money to train and send U.S. athletes to the Olympics. He traveled the world and connected with people from all walks of life. He never knew a stranger. He learned to fly a plane and captain a boat.

He reveled in his family, the Chicago Bears, and the way the morning sun felt as it warmed his back. He relished the feeling of accomplishment after working all day in the yard, his large, square hands roughened and covered with dirt. But at the end of the day, he liked nothing better than to be in Maine, enjoying a drink on the dock with his wife of 62 years, Cleo, as the sun slowly set over Branch Pond, turning the sky a dozen vibrant colors. He would look out on the quiet lake with the cry of loons in the distance. Inevitably, he would let out a laugh and say, "Another busy day on Branch Pond."

Surviving Dick are his wife Cleojean Olson; two sons, David and Brad Olson; two daughters, Meredith Olson and Dana Vasey (Jon); twelve grandchildren; step-sister, Patricia Kindelberger; sister-in-law, Melanie (Bruce) Haupert and their children, Kelly (Scott) Enyart and Christopher (Wendy) Haupert; cousin, Donald Wolsfelt; nephew, Terry Olson; and his faithful dog, Sammie.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Louis Olson, and his nephew, Gary Olson.

Dick Olson died as a result of a traffic accident, August 05, 2014 in Dedham, Maine.

Visitation will be at Iles Dunn's Chapel from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, August 22, 2014. Funeral services will be 12:00 p.m., (Noon) Saturday, August 23, 2014, at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, Iowa. Burial will follow at Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Animal Lifeline of Iowa, 4521 SE 14th Street, Des Moines, IA 50320, or Woodland Cemetery Restoration, 4909 University, Des Moines, Iowa 50311.

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Dunn's Funeral Home
2121 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA US 50312
Friday, August 22, 2014
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Lutheran Church of Hope
925 Jordan Creek Pkwy.
West Des Moines, IA US 50266
Saturday, August 23, 2014
12:00 PM
Glendale Cemetery
4909 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311
Saturday, August 23, 2014


Animal Lifeline
4521 SE 14th Street
Des Moines, IA 50320