Elaine Redalen Olson, 85
Elaine Redalen Olson passed away Oct. 12, 2020, at the age of 85 in Kalispell after living an active life dedicated to family, community service, education, and treasure hunting.
Elaine was born on Sept. 21, 1935, in Lanesboro, Minnesota, and was one of six siblings growing up in that small town. A baton-twirling majorette who was also the valedictorian of her high school class, Elaine would later attend Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. She graduated first in her class and earned a degree in education with a minor in religion. She taught the fifth grade for 11 years before starting a family in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with her husband Steve.
Blessed with good genes, Elaine never looked her age and she knew it. Steve didn’t know he was five years her junior until after he had proposed to her. Sometimes this prolific age-based fibbing came back to bite her. The admission process to the hospital’s delivery room for Elaine’s first born was momentarily held up with confusion caused by having multiple medical records on file, all with different ages.
After moving from South Dakota to Kalispell in 1978, Elaine discovered her entrepreneurial knack for bargain hunting. She loved the adrenal rush that came with discovering hidden treasures from families who were downsizing, moving out of town or just de-cluttering. For 27 years, she maintained a booth at South Side Consignment and spent untold hours scouting the countryside to supply it. The associations and friendships she made in this venture and her knowledge in these matters was very dear to her.
For 30 years Elaine was passionate about helping women advance through education and held all the leadership chairs in her P.E.O. chapter (Philanthropic Educational Organization.) Elaine also spent 15 years working the food bank at Calvary Lutheran Church.
Her hobbies included playing in three different bridge groups. She went on unforgettable espionage adventures as a prolific reader of spy novels. One day up at Big Mountain Ski Resort in Whitefish, at the age of 40, she leaned into Steve while sitting near the fire at a resort lounge and said, “What are we doing? Why are we not up on the slopes with our boys?” She convinced Steve to sign up for alpine ski lessons and would become an avid skier for the next 30 years. She also loved to fish and was very competitive in her attempt to catch the biggest, first, or most fish in a given day.
Elaine would not let aggression stand. She was known for jumping to the defense of friends and family and was deeply loyal to the many people she cared about. Steve would often express his joy of knowing that home would always be a pleasant and warm place to return to at the end of the day. Elaine doted on her two boys and created a wonderfully comfortable environment to grow up in.
Elaine is survived by her husband Steve, and her son Bryce.
She joins her son Mark and sisters Beverly and Jacqueline in heaven. There will be a celebration of Elaine's life in the summer of 2021 when it is safe to congregate in the ruggedly beautiful mountain town of Kalispell that this special lady from the plains loved dearly.
Memorial donations may be made in Elaine's memory to the Flathead Valley Community College’s Foundation for General Scholarship Fund at 777 Grandview Drive, Kalispell, Montana 59901.