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Bernadell “Bernie” Bryant Olson was born February 10, 1939 in Cass Lake, Minnesota. She moved to Bemidji with her family, graduated from Bemidji High School, and found work in town as a secretary at a local business. Bernie wanted more. She moved to Minneapolis to become a Career Girl in the Big City. Her plan was derailed, and she returned to Bemidji with her young son in a time when single parenthood was criticized. Bernie picked herself up, dusted herself off, and began again. Bernie had an eye to the future. Her new job with the county extension service transformed into a position at Bemidji State University. When BSU became part of the University of Minnesota the timing was auspicious in that she had just married the love of her life, Roger J. Olson. They were married on May 22, 1976 and the family soon moved to St. Louis Park, where they lived for nearly 45 years. At this time, Bernie transferred into an administration assistant position at the Twin Cities campus of the University.
Bernie was always looking for long term stability and the U offered that. She remained working at the U for the next 28 years. Bernie was very organized, and she did not suffer fools. Bernie prided herself on her ability to make things run the right way-HERS. If you did not know how to do something, she was quite happy to tell you the right way to do it. Not only was she impeccably organized, she made sure that the 56 faculty, 25 staff members, and 1370 students within the English department flew in formation as well.
After her retirement from the University, Bernie kept busy. She worked at a variety of jobs where she could use her organizing skills for the next 15 years. Bernie was accomplished at decoupage, ceramics, sewing and getting good deals shopping.
When Roger retired, Bernie really retired and they spent their time visiting relatives, relieving the local casinos of their excess revenue, and exploring the golf courses of the United States. Bernie and Roger were inseparable and traveled extensively. Each year they would usually take 3 or 4 trips around the country that they called explorations and would go on Ocean Cruises every couple of years. They spent many winters on South Padre Island.
The COVID lockdown in the spring of 2020 upended their world. Bernie and Roger went from living independently to needing 24-hour care due to the confusion the new paradigm of living caused. Bernie died of a massive stroke on December 14, 2020 with Roger holding her hand.
Bernie is survived by her husband, Roger J. Olson; son, Steven Schulstrom (Rita Vavrosky); grandchildren, Julie, Laura, Mary, Margaret, Samuel, and Edward; great-granddaughter, Caroline; brother, Gerald (Jackie) Bryant; sisters, Elaine (Ron) Banasik and Deanne Knutson; many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Bernie is preceded in death by her father, Samuel C. Bryant; mother, Leona Carpenter Bryant; brother, Stanley Bryant.
A memorial service is planned for April 7, 2021, please call Mattson Funeral Home & Cremation Service for details 651-464-3556. Burial at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery. Many heartfelt thanks to the caregiving staff at Parmly and Ecumen Hospice.