Deacon Bill Olson


William D. Olson, age 66, of Grinnell, died on Sunday, December 29, 2013, at Grinnell Regional Medical Center.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held 11:00 a.m., Friday, January 3, 2014, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Grinnell.  Pallbearers will be the Knights of Columbus of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.  Interment with military rites will be in Hazelwood Cemetery in Grinnell.

Visitation will begin at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church with the family present from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.  A Vespers service will be held at 4:00 p.m., and recitation of the Holy Rosary at 6:00 p.m. in the church.  The family invites those attending the visitation to wear black and gold in honor of Bill’s love for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Memorials may be designated to Eternal Word Television Network in Birmingham, Alabama, or to Lourdes Volunteers North America in Syracuse, New York, mailed in care of the Smith Funeral Home, PO Box 368, Grinnell, Iowa 50112.  Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at


Bill was born on July 25, 1947, in Storm Lake, Iowa, the son of Clarence “George” Magnus Olson and Rosemary Zita (Koll) Olson.  He was raised near Sioux Rapids, Iowa, graduating from Sioux Rapids Community School.  Bill received his BA degree from the University of Iowa followed by Masters of Arts degrees from the University of Southern California and the University of Maryland, before returning to the University of Iowa, where he received his Juris Doctor degree.

In November of 1970, Bill met Debi Manatt and proposed to her three days later. They were married on February 27, 1971 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Iowa City. While stationed with the U.S. Army in Germany, they had two daughters, Gretchen and Uli. They moved to Grinnell in 1981, where he practiced law until his death.

Bill’s ministry for the Diocese of Davenport included service on the Diocesan Social Action Commission, the Global Solidarity Commission, and the Diocesan Council for Conciliation.  Diaconal service outside of St Mary’s parish included the Home Health Care Advisory Board  and Bioethics Advisory Board of GRMC, the Board of Directors of Poweshiek Co. Habitat for Humanity, Birthright of Grinnell Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of the Iowa Catholic Conference, and Lourdes Volunteers North America.  He was a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus, a long-time member of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, and a board member of the National Lawyers Association.

Bill loved the Iowa Hawkeyes, cherry pie and especially his granddaughters, Reagan and Berit.  Most precious to him was his faith in God and his service as permanent deacon to the Diocese of Davenport and to the parishioners of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Grinnell.

Bill is survived by his wife, Debra Olson of Grinnell; his daughters, Gretchen Olson of Iowa City, Iowa and Uli (Eric) Loichle of Minneapolis, Minnesota; 2 granddaughters, Reagan and Berit Loichle of Minneapolis; 2 brothers, Michael (Cindy) Olson of Kansas City, Missouri and David (Linda) Olson of Spencer, Iowa; and his sister, Mary Olson (James Moutray).

He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Irma Olson Boyer.

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