John Michael Olafson
A celebration of life for John Olafson who passed away early morning on June 23, 2023 at UC Health Hospital in Greeley, CO with his wife, Claudia and son, Michael by his side. He was comfortable and at peace.
John Michael Olafson, was born on April 23, 1942 in St Paul, MN, the 3rd child and second son of Joseph Myron and Evelyn (Newberg) Olafson. At age 3 the family moved to Omaha, NE where John’s education included graduating from Florence Grade School and Omaha North High. He was named to the 1959 Nebraska Class “A” All State and All City Football team at Omaha North High by the Omaha World Herald. John also played in the Second Annual North/South Shrine Bowl Game. He was awarded a football scholarship at the University of NE, Lincoln graduating from the University of Nebraska, Omaha with his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration.
He married Karen Lindberg in 1962 and one son, Michael John, was born in 1966. Karen passed away in 1978 from breast cancer. John moved to Denver, CO in 1972 continuing his banking career that spanned 22 years from 1962-1984 where he was a Vice President for major bank holding companies in Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming and Virginia. He graduated from the Colorado School of Banking and the Wisconsin School of Bank Marketing. He also worked with Citi Bank and marketed the first ATM in Nebraska at the Omaha National Bank.
John left banking in 1984 to advance his experience in insurance and investment fields and continued this path through 2005. Early on he obtained his Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow designation. He retired from MetLife as Branch Manager after receiving many trips for both him and his staff for outstanding sales.
John met Claudia Schindler when he hired her as an employee in banking and they were married on August 31, 1979. There were no children to this marriage. John’s insurance career took them from Denver, CO to Cheyenne and Casper, WY and Billings, MT. Their final residence was in Box Butte County near Alliance, NE since 2000.
After working in the insurance field, he worked as Box Butte Development Executive Director for five years for Box Butte County, NE. While serving as Director he was responsible for implementation and/or facilitation of Rosewood Estates Senior Housing Project; West Plains Grain Handling Facility; Building of the new Lin-Pepco Distribution Center; assisting the City of Alliance to become Certified as an Economic Development Community; and established Alliance’s industrial development site. Also, he re-established the Historic Main Street Program for Alliance. He served on the Board of Directors of Team Mates for 5 years in Alliance. After retiring as Director of Box Butte Development Corp, he continued assisting seniors with their insurance needs as a licensed agent for 40 years.
John believed in giving back to assist others and gave scholarships to Camp NOWESCA and North High School students for college to various young people over many years.
His civic accomplishments include the following: served on the Board of Trustees for St. John’s Lutheran Church in Alliance and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Mirage Flats, NE, Trinity Lutheran Church, Omaha, Nebraska and Lutheran Church in Casper Wyoming. Served on the Nebraska Heartland Express Board; served on the Camp NORWESCA Board of Directors, Chadron, NE. He served as Past President of Rotary and was a member 15 years. He served as volunteer on RSVP in Alliance, NE for 5 years. John was a member and Past President of the Chadron Saddle Club for 10 years.
John went on many rides, including “Ride The Ridge” 3 times at Ft. Robinson in Nebraska and also rode the Chief Red Cloud Buttes while there. He also rode a portion of the Oregon Trail while living on his ranch outside Casper, Wyoming. Volunteer for the Publicity Committee Cheyenne Frontier Days for 5 years. He was a National Weather Service spotter since 2005.
Member of Nebraska Angus Association. John raised commercial cattle near Casper, WY for 12 years and started a Registered Black Angus herd near Alliance in 2006 and sold bulls and heifers each year. He loved the cattle business, both working with the cattle and selling them to other ranchers.
He had a passion for horses and cattle. He loved horseback riding, raising and training quarter horses and raising and selling his Registered Angus cattle. His other interests included: Fishing, golf, pheasant hunting on his land and travel. He loved Mexico – traveled to various parts of Mexico over 40 years, owning a timeshare in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
John was honored with a “Quilt of Valor on August 2, 2022 presented by the Alliance Legion #7 and AIR Panhandle CH 43. At that time he was also awarded the Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin for his service during the Vietnam time period. His service was from November 1965 through November 1971.
John was preceded in death by, his parents, Joe and Evelyn Olafson, first wife, Karyn (Lindberg) Olafson, brother, Jerry Olafson, sister-in-law Jane Olafson and sister, Joy Olafson Grant and brother-in-law Richard Grant, both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.
He is survived by Claudia, his wife and his son, Michael Olafson, nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews on both sides of the family.
Memorials to: United Methodist Church - for the youth program Hemingford, Nebraska as well as Box Butte General Hospital for equipment to care for patients.
Celebration of Life service will be on July 8, 2023 at 1:00 pm at the United Methodist Church in Hemingford, Nebraska. The family is inviting everyone to attend a luncheon following the service in the basement of the church.