Virgil Adolf Olson, 96, of Cambridge died Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in hospice care at GracePointe Crossing Gables East. He gave his life in humble and loving service to God’s Kingdom, his family, and many, many, others.
Virgil was born June 17, 1916 in St. Paul, Minn. to Adolf and Esther (Larson) Olson. That evening his father wrote this brief note in his diary: Välskapad gosse född 10:20 e.m. Tack Gud (Well-shaped boy born 10:20 p.m. Thank God). Although an only child, he enjoyed close relationships with numerous cousins on his mother’s side. Pastors, missionaries, and Bethel students and faculty members were frequent guests in the home. In this way Virgil’s life became intimately connected early on with what would eventually become the Baptist General Conference (now Converge International).
In the summer of 1935 Virgil served as a student assistant pastor in Karlstad, Minn. He went unsure of his pastoral calling; he returned sure of it. This led to a lifetime of service in the church, in theological education, and in missions. He visited over 60 nations in the course of his career and was inducted as an honorary member into the Adi tribe in Assam, India.
Virgil served as a minister (1937-1951), a professor at Bethel Seminary (1951-1968), Dean, Bethel College (1968-1975), Executive Secretary, World Mission Board Baptist General Conference (1975-1981), and in many church-related roles during his 31 years of “retirement.” He enjoyed unusually good health throughout his long life and had many interests, among them woodworking and music. He drove a car for 84 years. A special retreat for Virgil and Carol was their place “up at Kost,” overlooking the Sunrise River. It was here that Virgil could take on the role of a country farmer, tilling the garden, working with his tools in the shed, and going into North Branch to get a paper in the morning.
Virgil was preceded in death by parents Adolf and Esther Olson and wife Carol. He is survived by wife Alma Bjork Olson, daughters Linda (George) Gianoulis and Ann (Dennis) Monikowski, son Daniel (Shirley) Olson, grandchildren Anastasia Cash, Christina Johnson, John Gianoulis, Kathryn Monikowski, Jonathan Olson, Jennifer Olson, and great-grandchild Elaina Johnson.
Funeral Services were June 8, 2013 at First Baptist Church in Cambridge with Rev. Bob Jonsson, and Rev. Jonathan Larson officiating. Special music was provided by Christina Johnson and Rev. Bill McKinney. Pianist was Carlotta Lund. Pallbearers were Travis Cash, George and John Gianoulis, Scott Johnson, Dennis Monikowski and Jonathan Olson. Interment was in Hillside Cemetery in Minneapolis with Rev. Bruce Petersen officiating. Memorials are preferred to Bethel University, 3900 Bethel Drive, St. Paul, MN 55112-6999 designated to the Carolyn Nelson Olson International Ministry Scholarship. Arrangements were with the Carlson-Lillemoen Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Cambridge.