June 1, 1927—November 20, 2020
WESTBY - Harvey Olson, age 93, passed away Friday November 20, 2020 at Norseland Nursing Home after a brief illness.
Harvey was born June 1, 1927 near Melvina, WI to Louie and Gladys (Anderson) Olson. He attended school through eighth grade and then decided to stay home and farm with his parents. On June 12, 1946, he married Pauline Olson.
During Harvey’s early adult years, he drove cattle truck, worked on farms and became herdsman at Rock River Farms near Rockford, IL, where he had a cow named Gweena that set the national record for milk production at that time. He moved his family back to the Viroqua area and farmed west of Viroqua for a few years. This was when he found a horse named TOOTS. She became one of the best barrel racing horses around at that time. Rumor has it that they had the best time in the state one year! From that point forward every horse he owned would be compared to Ole TOOTS! There was always a horse or two at Harvey’s place. He purchased a farm west of Westby and milked a herd of Jersey. Later he started to purchase and develop a herd of Registered Holsteins, which became one of the top production herds in Vernon County. At the same time, he was a technician for Curtiss Breeding Service and was recognized as the top technician for two years in the nation. Later they bought his aunt and uncle's farm in Newry, WI where they raised Appaloosa and Quarter horses and he worked as a Herd Analyst for Tri-State Breeders of Westby, WI.
One day he came home and told Pauline that he wanted to start buying and selling dairy cattle so they, along with his daughter and son-in-law, Cindy and Dwight Schoonover, revamped the buildings at the farm so they could milk. Harvey always knew a good cow and bought and sold to and from many people across the U.S. and Canada. He also had an influence on the export market. He was awarded the Vernon County Friend of the Holstein Cow, a distinction given each year to a person who influenced the breed within the county. One day he went to a sale at Ernlo Farms in Iowa and came home with a bred heifer that he thought could produce a son that would be a good bull. Just a hunch! After several years of proving Ernlo Chairman Valiant out he was leased to Tri-State and became one of the most sought after Holstein bulls in the U.S. for several years. This was when Harvey decided to retire. He was 72 at the time.
After retirement, Harvey started buying Belgian horses which led to many horse shows, parades and wagon rides. He loved his Belgians! One horse stood out and that was ZACH, a gentle giant who was treated like a member of the family. He spent his entire life at the farm in Newry. Harvey became involved in the Draft Horse Show at the Vernon County Fair and was the show Supervisor for several years. He was awarded the Vernon County Friend of the Fair for all his hard work and dedication to the show. Harvey was also very active in several boards throughout the county and was President of Church Council several times.
His other love was playing Euchre. He would travel anywhere to play cards. Sometimes up four days a week. If there was a deck of cards around, he would play with anyone! And when he moved to the Assisted Living he was always quick to find a group of people to play.
Harvey is survived by his children: John (Diane Brown) of Rockton, IL, Jeffrey (Susan) of Clintonville, WI, Cindy (Dwight) Schoonover of Westby, Tom (Sherri) of DeForest, WI and Todd (Laura) of Viroqua; 14 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren; a brother-in-law, Jr.(Judy) Kirking of Rockford, IL; and a special friend, Millie Lundsten of La Crosse, WI.
Harvey is preceded in death by his wife, Pauline; his parents Louie and Gladys Olson; three sisters, Margorie Dobbs, Lorraine Clark, and Donna Hink and their husbands, Darwin, Alvin and Waldo; a daughter-in-law, Valerie Olson; two infant grandchildren and one infant great-grandchild.
Due to Covid-19 a private graveside service will be held at North Coon Prairie Lutheran Church. Memorials may be given to North Coon Prairie Lutheran Church.
The family asks that no flowers be given at this time.
Torkelson Funeral Home in Cashton, WI is assisting the family with arrangements.
A celebration of Harvey’s life will be held at a later date.
The family would like to thank the staff and residents of Fairhaven Assisted Living for their wonderful care and friendship to our father over the years. We would also like to thank the staff at Vernon Memorial Hospital, Norseland Nursing Home and St. Croix Hospice.
Online condolences may be offered at www.torkelsonfuneralhome.com
Torkelson Funeral Home