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James Roger Olsen

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Sioux Falls, S.D. — James Roger Olsen, Sr., 82, Sioux Falls, S.D., died Oct. 12, 2020, at his home.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions a private family Funeral Service will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church, Platte, S.D., with live stream available at Mount Funeral Homes Facebook page and website.

There will be a private family Committal Service at Graceland Cemetery, Burke, S.D. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Mount Funeral Home, Platte, is assisting with arrangements. James Roger Olsen, Sr. was born Aug. 4, 1938, in Sioux City, Iowa, to Floyd “Jim” and Ruth (Riley) Olsen.

Jim was raised in Hartington, and always remembered his childhood with good memories of his friends and family. While playing baseball with friends at age 10, he was hit in the face by a ball and as a result, only had peripheral vision in his right eye. He used size to determine distance the rest of his life. Jim enjoyed all sports, with the exception of track. He excelled as a quarterback on the football team (even though his track coach once told him that he ran like he had a piano on his back). Jim graduated from Hartington High School with the class of 1956 and attended South Dakota School of Mines, Rapid City, S.D. While a student there, he worked in the kitchen and waited tables at the Country Club. His specialty then was blueberry pancakes, although, later in life he mastered French toast, a fact verified by family. A professor wrote in his yearbook, “You are a student who will achieve great things if you someday realize your potential.” Visits home during college were always made hitchhiking with suitcase in hand and a call to his folks to pick him up when he got to Yankton. During the summer months Jim worked for the Corp of Engineers on the construction of Gavin’s Point Dam on the Missouri River. With help of friends, he built a houseboat using 55 gallon barrels for floatation so they could relax on the weekends.

Jim married Janet Hauge Dec. 17, 1960. They were parents of James, Jr., Jeffrey, Jana, Jonna and Jodene. Jim married Lenna (Pense) Rolf Oct. 2, 1979, and added step sons, Michael and Marcus Rolf to his family.

In 1960, Jim started to work for the S.D. Department of Transportation and retired as Lead Project Engineer after 44 years. He worked in Armour, Bonesteel, Platte, Beresford and Sioux Falls offices. While living in Platte, Jim helped build the Platte-Winner Bridge with co-workers and the Lake Platte Golf Course with friends, and was a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church. His career enabled him to be involved in many projects, including the construction of the Regional DOT Complex - Sioux Falls and the East 10th Street Bridge, which received the AGC National Partnering Award in 1996. He loved people, mathematics and all types of construction projects, which lead to a lifetime of friendships, challenges and accomplishments. After his retirement from SD-DOT in 2004, he worked as a project manager for D&G Concrete Construction and the City of Brandon. He will be remembered as the guy who preferred a cowboy hat to a hard hat on the job.

Jim enjoyed being the coordinator for many retirement, office and sprint car racing parties. To many people he was known as JOC which was synonymous with Jim Olsen Consulting and consult he did in various ways, times and locations! A test lab on any of his jobs became a gathering point. Each friend he made became someone he treasured.

Jim started attending Nebraska Cornhusker football games with his teammates while still in high school. The coach got tickets and the team sat on the grass at the north end of the stadium in Lincoln. He was an unwavering Husker fan in good and in what he called the “rebuilding” years. Jim was the only person in Sioux Falls with a Herbie Husker cutout on his roof. He enjoyed helping family and friends with projects and also attending many sporting events involving family, where he often helped referee the game from the stands.

Survivors include his wife, Lenna Olsen; son, Jeffrey (Jackie) Olsen; three daughters, Jana (Lyndon) Overweg, Jonna (Lee) DeHaan and Jodene (Joel) Foxley; step son, Marcus (Melissa) Rolf; two daughters-in-law, Jelene (Ray) Wipf and Dana (Tracey) Stranger. 26 grandchildren, Brooklynn Fobbs, Jeanne (Dustin) Acheson, Jacey (Michael) Richardson, James (Tess) Olsen III, Jeb Olsen. Jordan (Daniel) Hoffman, Joni (fiancé Brandon) Olsen, Jentre Olsen, Jill (Josh) Moret, Jackson Olsen. Taylor (Dustin) Wheeler, Morgan Overweg, Blair Overweg, Reed Overweg. Anthony (Josie) DeHaan, Spencer (Whitney) DeHaan. Blake (Mica) Foxley, Maggie (Tyson Dyk) Foxley, Katie (Hunter) Johnson, Payton Foxley. Chelsea Rolf, Cara Stranger, Braden Stranger. Kaleen Rolf, Borden Rolf, Corbin Rolf; 33 great-grandchildren; brother, Gary (Cindi) Olsen; sister-in-law, Jo (Derald) Vaughn; as well as many other relatives and friends.

Jim was proceeded in death by his parents, Floyd “Jim” (1977) and Ruth (1986) Olsen; son, James Roger Olsen, Jr. (1995); step son, Michael Rolf (1994); grandson, Tanner Olsen (2014); sister-in-law, Karen Olsen (1985); and brother-in-law, Philip Pense (2007).