Graham Peter Olson, was born in Eau Claire, WI on January 1, 1944 to Bennett and Florence Olson and passed away on October 23, 2020 at the age of 76 in Marshfield, WI. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire with a bachelor’s degree in 1966 and started teaching in Marshfield in the fall of 1966. He married his wife Georgianna on August 12, 1967 and they began their life together in Marshfield that year.
Graham taught at Marshfield High School for 36 years until 2002. Always one to get involved, Graham served as the High School Varsity Baseball Coach for 16 years, and the Student Council Advisor for 21 years. He was a regular at High School football and basketball games volunteering to supervise the events to help ensure the games went smoothly and the players, students, and fans were well-behaved. He had a knack for sensing when fans or students were about to cause some mischief, and by placing himself near the “would-be troublemakers” things always settled down quickly.
Councilman Tom Buttke giving a tribute to Graham at the Council Meeting, tribute starts at 22:00.
During the summers when he was not teaching, Graham could be found at the Marshfield baseball fields. Always an advocate for kids, he started the Marshfield Little League baseball program in 1970 and led the program until 1995. During that time, he helped raise money to build baseball diamonds for Little League use and created league programs enabling hundreds of kids to play youth baseball during the summer. Graham’s love of baseball and working with kids was a perfect combination. When asked about the program, he would always say the Little League programs were designed to “help keep kids off the street”. His “kid-first” mentality was the hallmark of the program. He instituted rules ensuring every player would play in every game no matter the score or outcome of the game. He established great friendships with members of the Marshfield American Legion Post 54, and the Post graciously donated the use of their facility for Little League fundraising events throughout the years, including annual Pancake Breakfasts and Raffles.
In the classroom Graham’s teaching style and personality was like no other. Known for his challenging curriculum requiring research papers and book reviews, his Western Civilization class was a college preparation course. He was tough but fair, and the number of students who considered him their favorite teacher is too high to count.
Throughout his teaching career, Graham took the greatest pride in his students, and received his greatest joy from teaching. He loved staying connected with students after they graduated and enjoyed learning of their adventures and travels beyond high school. Past students would regularly come back to visit him, and he treasured those visits and conversations. An avid reader, he would often ask those students if they had read any good books lately, and many times he would be familiar with the books or authors they would mention. During his teaching career, he would set aside one day per year where past students met with current students, leaving the classroom to let them talk amongst themselves. His goal was always to prepare his students for the future, and that was one unique method he used to help accomplish his goal.
After Graham retired from teaching in 2002, he was elected to the Marshfield School Board for 3 consecutive terms, spanning 9 years. During that time, he continued his work with the American Legion Baseball Board of Directors, on which he served for a total of 30 years. Between his time volunteering at American Legion baseball games and helping raise donations to improve or build new athletic facilities in Marshfield, Graham’s family often referred to him as “the busiest retired person they knew”.
Most recently, Graham spent much of his free time volunteering at the House of the Dove Hospice Center in Marshfield. He loved the Marshfield community along with the people who live there and dedicated his life to improving the community one student, one ball player, or one fundraiser at a time. His family would often joke that it was nearly impossible to go anywhere in Marshfield with Graham and not run into somebody he knew, and Graham loved that about the city. On top of everything he did within the Marshfield community, Graham was a loving husband, a dedicated father, and a wonderful grandfather.
Graham is survived by his wife Georgianna, his sister Kären, sons Tony (Amy) and Andy (Renee), and two grandchildren Madison and Cooper. He is also survived by all the little leaguers he coached and all the students he taught over the years. Graham enjoyed nothing more than working with kids. Every student who stepped into his classroom and every ball player that walked onto a little league field put a twinkle in his eye. He loved every minute he spent on the baseball field and cherished every day he spent in the classroom.
The Olson family extends special thanks to all his former students, little leaguers, teachers, and members of the community with whom he worked. Teaching, coaching, and working within the community brought more joy to Graham’s life than the family can express.
The Olson family will be hosting a celebration of Graham’s life at the American Legion Post 54 located at 2100 S. Maple Ave, Marshfield, WI 54449 on Friday, October 30 from 3:00pm – 6:00pm. Masks will be required for all those who wish to attend. In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family requests any memorials or donations be made via check to the American Legion Post 54 or the House of the Dove. Information for these organizations can be found below:
American Legion Post 54
2100 S. Maple Ave
Marshfield, WI 54449
House of the Dove
1000 W. 11th Street
Marshfield, WI 54449
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