University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Remembering Ione Olson

Ione Wuest Olson, 89, died Friday, Oct. 8, at the Villa St. Vincent home in Crookston, Minn.  She helped establish the occupational therapy department at UND and taught until her retirement in 1980.

Olson was born in Glenwood, Minn. on April 20, 1921, to daughter of Edgar and Florence (Wuest) Wittwer.  She attended all 12 grades and graduated co-salutatorian in 1939 from Glenwood High School.  She attended Milwaukee-Downer College in Milwaukee Wisc. In 1944, Ione graduated with a diploma in Occupational Therapy. She was first employed as a registered occupational therapist at the Veteran's Hospital in St. Cloud, Minn., and then Fargo, N.D. It was at the Fargo VA Hospital that she met Ivan Iver Olson. They married in Bemidji, Minn. on Feb. 20, 1950, and they spent the next 44 years between the Glenwood and Greater Grand Forks areas.

In 1954, Ione joined the UND faculty as an assistant professor and established the Occupational Therapy Department. She earned her bachelor's degree in Occupational Therapy at UND in 1958. In 1960, she was awarded a scholarship by the March of Dimes to attend a psychiatric OT program in Omaha, Neb. She was an instructor at UND until 1980 when she retired.

Ione was invested in her community and often an inspiration for its betterment. Some of her accomplishments as an initiator and founding member include the ND / SD Occupational Association, the East Grand Forks Senior Center, Volunteer Services in Greater Grand Forks, and a Recovery Inc. chapter. Mayor Louie Murray appointed Ione to a two-year term on the Community Development Advisory Committee, and she was named the female Outstanding Senior Citizen in 1995. She assisted in the implementation of the Fare Share food program and for 11 years and conducted the 4th grade Grandparents Essay Contest in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

Ione was an active member and served on many boards, including the Grand Forks Domestic Violence, Rape Crisis and Abuse committee, Seniors Inc., NW Area agency on Aging in Warren and Thief River Falls, the East Grand Forks Heritage Center, Greater Grand Forks Service Providers for the Elderly, East Grand Forks Community Education, Elderhealth, American OT Association, and the Red River Valley Fiber Guild.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Ivan; her parents, Edgar and Florence; and sisters, LaVerne Philpot and Marjorie Ewalt. She is survived by three sons, Larry (Linda) Wittwer of Egan Minn., Neil (Nancy) Olson of East Grand Forks Minn., and Glen (Sandra) Olson of Grand Forks N.D., her brother LeRoy Wittwer of Glenwood Minn., 11 grand children, and 17 great grand children.

The funeral service is at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13, in the Stennes Funeral Home, 2029 Central Ave. NW, East Grand Forks, Minn. Visitation is from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, with a prayer service at 6:30 p.m. The interment will be at Resurrection Cemetery in East Grand Forks, Minn.

-- Courtesy of the Grand Forks Herald.


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