Duane Edward Olson, 73
Duane Edward Olson, age 73 of Polar, died Tuesday, April 23, 2019 unexpectedly of natural causes at his home.
He was born on October 2, 1945 in Antigo to the late Edward and Mildred (Besse) Olson.
Duane was a graduate of Antigo High School’s class of 1963 where he was known early for his spirited nature and determination. During his high school career he was known for working in the woods, cutting Christmas trees, Christmas boughs, and logging with his dad instead of going to school. His early strong work ethic may have led to his expulsion 2 weeks before his graduation, that he adamantly insisted (with a smile) was due to “political reasons” and declined further elaboration. Fortunately, he had worked far enough ahead in his studies that he only needed to complete one final exam in one class that allowed him to graduate. For those who knew him, it is not surprising his notable work ethic, determination, and ambitious nature was solidly established so early in his life.
Shortly after graduation, he served in the United States Army during the Vietnam war where he was a truck driver. After returning home, he met and went on to marry Janet Samuelson on January 22, 1972 at Christ United Methodist Church in Merrill. Janet preceded him in death on December 19, 2018.
As the 4th generation on the family farm, he raised beef cattle and continued the Christmas tree business he had with his father. He was very proud of his lineage and was determined to maintain the family farm that was homesteaded in the late 1800s.
Duane was a master of multiple trades. He was a semi driver for Krueger and Steinfest as well as a heavy equipment operator, logger and farmer. During the mid-late 1980s he diversified. He became a member of the Operating Engineers Local 139 where he worked for several companies. He also converted the beef cattle farm into a Christmas tree farm but maintained his love for caring for animals by renting pasture land to various farmers in the summer. He continued logging (mostly cedar) every winter after the Christmas tree harvest was complete until it was time to plant Christmas trees in the spring. He then returned to work road construction in the summer months until it was time again to harvest Christmas trees in the fall. Two of his proud achievements were receiving a Farm Century Award in 2008 and a Forestry Stewardship Award a few years later for his dedication to conscientious forestation.
He was proudest of his two surviving daughters, Susan Olson of Antigo and Jennifer Olson of Wausau, whom he instilled a strong work ethic and many life skills.
He is also survived by his granddaughter, Kaylyn Hafner of Wausau, daughter of Jennifer. Kaylyn was the apple of his eye. He visited her the most of all the relatives when she was born and made sure to get her a special “gift from Grandpa” every Christmas that consisted of some replica of heavy equipment, a large truck or farm setting. His proudest gift was the small Husqvarna chainsaw with a rotating rubber chain that he could not wait until Christmas to give her one year. He was always determined to turn her into a “tree farmer” and frequently jokingly threatened to buy her a shearing knife. He boasted that she was “the youngest tree farmer here” at her first Christmas Tree Convention when she was less than 1 year old. He was very proud.
Duane always said “it’s not work if you enjoy it.” His work was his hobby, especially with the Christmas trees. He eventually retired from the Operating Engineer’s and focused on his farm as well as his family. He, like many of his generation never fully retired and was always planning for the upcoming tree season. He was always busy. With his partial retirement, he enjoyed conspiring with the coffee clutch at the Dixie Lunch, where it was joked that world’s problems were solved but never shared with outsiders. He will be missed dearly.
Visitation will be held on Sunday from 4:00PM until 7:00PM at Strasser-Roller Funeral Home and on Monday at the Antigo United Methodist Church from 10:00 AM until the service. Funeral services will be held on Monday at 11:00 AM at Antigo United Methodist Church. Interment will be in Elmwood Cemetery with military honors. Reverend Debbie Pimm will officiate.