Senator Olaf Martin Oleson View All Years

Compiled Historical Information
Date of Death: 2/8/1944
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Assemblies Served:
Senate: 24 (1892) - 25 (1894)
Home County: Webster
Olaf Martin Oleson
Webster County


MR. PRESIDENT: Your committee, appointed to prepare suitable resolutions commemorating the life, character and public service of the late Honorable Olaf Martin Oleson of Fort Dodge, Iowa, begs leave to submit the following:

Mr. Oleson was born in Norway, June 29, 1849, and came to the United States in his teenage. He arrived in Webster county with cash resources of less than one dollar, where he continued to make his home until his death, which occurred February 8, 1944. He remained a loyal citizen of Iowa to the end of his long and eventful life.

He served efficiently in the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth General Assemblies, representing the Twenty-seventh Senatorial District.

Among the achievements of his life was a fellowship in the Iowa Academy of Science. Botany continued to be his hobby, and he spent much time in research. He prepared and printed a book on the flora of Webster county. In 1939 he gave Iowa State College his valuable collection of two hundred thirty volumes for its scientific library. This collection contained many books then out of print. To the same institution he gave his valuable herbarium, composed of thousands of specimens, which was considered the most complete of Iowa flora. It also contained herbaria of many foreign countries.

He was knighted a member of the Knights of St. Olaf by King Haakon of Norway in 1924. For many years he was honorary president of the Norwegian Singing Society of America. He was founder of the Grieg Mandskor of Fort Dodge. He personally directed the choir and composed many songs for it. In 1938, at the dedication of the band shell at Oleson Park in Fort Dodge, he directed the Grieg Mandskor, which he had organized, in a song which he had composed.

A wholesome philosophy of life was held by this friendly man. He believed in working hard, playing for health, and he always .looked on the bright side of life and never harbored trouble. His interest in civic affairs were substantiated by the generous gifts to hospitals, schools, churches and musical organizations. Perhaps one of the largest of his many philanthropics was directed toward the Lutheran Hospital, Fort Dodge, which his generous gifts made possible. A man of many interests, he was able to invest his love of botany and music, and also his civic and business interests, in a manner which was reflected in his character in an unselfish and friendly regard for his fellowmen.

He lived to witness a countryside transform from a pathless grassland to a populous city. A portion of virgin woodland he preserved in the form of a park of eighty acres, which bears his name, Oleson Park, located within the city limits. This is one of several park areas given by Mr. Oleson to Fort Dodge.

There is a finality about death that seems to respect the life that appears to be fully spent. If this were prepared as a eulogy instead of a simple biographical sketch designed to commemorate Mr. Oleson’s services to Fort Dodge and to Iowa, there are many items that could be mentioned with propriety concerning him.

Be It Resolved by the Senate of the Fifty-first General Assembly, That in the passing of the Honorable Olaf Martin Oleson of Fort Dodge, Iowa, the state has lost a valuable and honorable citizen, and an honest statesman.

Be It Further Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be spread on the Journal of the Senate, and that the Secretary of the Senate be directed to forward an enrolled copy to the wife of the deceased.







The resolution was unanimously adopted.