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December 20, 1932 - November 12, 2016

Tod (Theodore Alexander) Olson Jr., 83, passed away November 12, 2016, from complications of multiple myeloma at his home in Idaho Falls.

Tod was born December 20, 1932, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Theodore Alexander Olson Sr. and Grace M. Lundberg Olson. He grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and graduated from Washburn High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in science education from the University of Minnesota and went on to earn a master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan.

On December 20, 1952, Tod married Jacquelyn Joanne Pankratz in Mountain Lake, Minnesota. To this union were born five children, Thor, Eric, Laurie, Lynn, and John. Tod and Jackie made their home in Long Lake, Minnesota.

In 1959 Tod began his career at General Mills as a food science researcher, studying fallout from Strontium 90 and helping to develop the continuous Cheerios gun. He also worked to build their computer facility and pioneered the use of computers in research. After leaving General Mills in 1975, he joined Control Data Corporation where his career continued to follow the rapid advance of computers. He served in the Peripheral Products disk drive division, leading the development of early optical data storage. He later became General Manager of Product Management and Planning. He completed his career by returning to General Mills as Director of Information Technology and was widely regarded as a talented manager of both technology and people.

After Tod’s retirement in 1991, he and his wife began splitting their time living between their Minnesota and Idaho Falls homes.

The citizens of Long Lake, Minnesota, encouraged Tod to run for the office of Mayor. He served two terms as Mayor of Long Lake between 1992 and 1996. In Idaho Falls, he served as President of the Waterford Homeowners Association. Tod was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Long Lake, Minnesota, and set up a fund to assist students in purchasing textbooks.

In addition to Tod’s devotion to his family and his communities, he was an avid back packer and organized many trips with his family and friends to his favorite trails in Glacier National Park. Tod felt most at home in the mountains.

Tod (KØTO) was a passionate amateur radio operator. He was a lifetime member of ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League) in which he served many roles at local, regional and international levels. An active contester, he was inducted into the CQ Contest Hall of Fame in May 2016. He was the founding editor of the National Contest Journal (NCJ) and served on every standing committee of the ARRL board. He was twice chairman of the Administration & Finance Committee of the ARRL. Tod was a member of the Minnesota Wireless Association, the Eagle Rock Amateur Radio Club, and the founding member of the KØTO HF Society here in Idaho Falls.

Tod is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Jackie Olson of Idaho Falls, ID;
brother, Dr. Robert Olson of Saint Louis Park, MN;
son, Thor (Poldi Gerard) Olson of Minneapolis, MN;
son, Dr. Eric (Rhonda) Olson of Idaho Falls, ID;
daughter, Laurie (Richard) Baumgartner of Plymouth, MN;
daughter, Lynn (Dan) Munson of Maplewood, MN;
son, John (Becky) Olson of Apple Valley, MN;
11 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, R. Thomas Olson, DDS.

A Memorial Service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, November 19, 2016, at Wood Funeral Home East Side, 963 S. Ammon Road. The family will visit with friends from 10-10:45 a.m. prior to services. Funeral Services will take place at a later date in Minnesota.

Throughout his life, Tod was a teacher to many of both skills and "Life Lessons." In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the donor’s choice of organizations that teach others.

The family would greatly appreciate if you would share a favorite memory in the online guestbook.

ARRL Honorary Vice President, Director Emeritus Tod Olson, K0TO, SK

ARRL Honorary Vice President and Director Emeritus Tod Olson, K0TO ex-W0IYP, of Minnesota and Idaho, died on November 12 after battling cancer for several years. An ARRL Life Member, he was 83. He began his volunteer service to ARRL in 1974 as the Minnesota Section Communications Manager. He became Dakota Division Vice Director in 1976, and then Director in 1982. In 1986, the ARRL Board of Directors elected him as ARRL Vice President of International Affairs, a post he held until 1990. He again served as Dakota Division Director from 1994 until 1999. The ARRL Board of Directors named him an ARRL Director Emeritus in 2000 and an ARRL Honorary Vice President in 2003.

Olson held a BS from the University of Minnesota, and an MPH from the University of Michigan. He belonged to the Minnesota Wireless Association and the Eagle Rock Amateur Radio Club. An active contester, he was inducted last May into the CQ Contest Hall of Fame. Earlier this year, he entered hospice care.

“Even through his entire illness, he was a positive force for everyone who knew him, ” ARRL First Vice President and immediate past Dakota Division Director Greg Widin, K0GW, said. On the CQ-Contest reflector, former Dakota Division Vice Director Hans Brakob, K0HB, called Olson “my mentor, my teacher, sometimes my critic, and always a true and steady friend, ” and said, “I feel like I have lost my brother.” Former ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, knew Olson well and offered these reflections:

“For young Tod Olson, 1952 was a life-altering year. He married the love of his life — and he became a radio amateur. For the next 64 years these two events set the course of Tod’s life. It is easy to imagine Tod’s hopes and dreams as he and Jackie began their life together, and to rejoice at how fully they were met: Five children, a successful and fulfilling career, and community service as the mayor of Long Lake, Minnesota. A lifelong interest in technology influenced Tod’s career as well as his choice of avocation; he retired in 1991 as Director of the Information Technology Department at General Mills.

“As he opened the envelope from the FCC containing his first license, it is unlikely that even Tod could imagine where Amateur Radio would take him, but he tackled his new avocation with the same energy and devotion as to family, career, and community. The Amateur Radio community was enriched by his selfless efforts and his life was enriched in return.

“As W0IYP, Tod soon began making his mark through local radio clubs and on-the-air activity. His passion for competitive operating, particularly in the ARRL November Sweepstakes, led him in 1973 to be the founding editor of National Contest Journal (NCJ). In 1976 he became K0TO. He was inducted into the CQ Contest Hall of Fame largely on the strength of his vision for NCJ and his willingness to do the enormous work that it took to launch, edit, and distribute a print publication in the days before personal computers.

“Tod served on every standing committee of the ARRL Board and twice was chairman of the Administration & Finance Committee. In recognition of his extraordinary contributions the ARRL Board elected him as Honorary Vice President in 2003.

“In retirement, Tod and Jackie divided their time between Minnesota and Idaho, and it was in Idaho Falls that Tod chose to enter hospice and to spend his final weeks with Jackie and other family members. His countless friends in Amateur Radio send their condolences to the family and our thanks for having shared him with us for so many years.”

A memorial service will held later in Minnesota.


Obituary/biography: Wood Funeral Home, ARRL 
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