American Veteran 04

Robert K. Olson

December 23, 1925 ~ June 22, 2019 (age 93)


Robert K. Olson, age 93, of Seeley, WI, died on June 22, 2019 at Aspen Acres Care Center in Hayward.

Robert “Bob” was born December 23, 1925 to Sigurd F. and Elizabeth (Uhrenholdt) Olson, in Ely, Minnesota.

 He lived in Ely until he graduated from Ely High School in 1944.  He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II during 1944 and 1945.  After his discharge he attended Northland College in Ashland, WI and Carleton College in Northfield, MN where he majored in International Relations and graduated BA cum laude 1949.  He then earned a Master’s degree from the Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS) at the University of Denver in 1951.  During that time he met and married Yvonne O. Urbank of Rhinelander, WI.

Bob was appointed to the US Foreign Service in July 1956.  He served in various capacities at U.S. Embassies in Benghazi, Libya, Beirut, Lebanon, Paris, Ottawa, Canada, and Rome with special assignments to Vietnam for two years with the Third Marine Amphibious Force (3MAF) and to the Department of State in Washington, D.C.

Bob retired in 1976 and continued his own work free-lance.  He settled in the family home in Seeley to begin a ten-year program of renovation and estate management.  In the meantime, he continued with special assignments with the State Department.  He and Yvonne lived for two years in Oxford, England where he attended Oxford University and earned a second Master’s degree for his work on the problems of North/South international relations.  He also lectured at Oxford and U.S. colleges and universities and for two years was Executive Director of the Institute of World Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 

While living in Seeley, Bob was founding President of the Northwest Chapter of the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association (WWOA), and Founding President of the Listening Point Foundation based in Ely.  He wrote and published two books and numerous articles on international affairs and U.S. foreign policy.  He was a member of the Atlantic Council of the U.S. (Washington, D.C.) and the UK Royal Institute of International Affairs (London). 

Bob’s recreations have been travel, forest management, gardening, landscaping, cross country and downhill skiing, hiking, and reading.  His friendships, local and international, have been one of the most cherished treasures of his life after the matchless love and companionship through war and peace, at home or abroad, of his beloved wife of sixty years.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Yvonne; his son, Burnham Keith; and his brother Sigurd Thorne Olson of Juneau, Alaska.

He is survived by his son, Derek Olson of Seeley; nephews, Robert and Gregory Olson; and a far flung family of cousins and their children.

Bob will be cremated and his ashes interred next to his wife in Seeley Riverside Cemetery.

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