Cover photo for Kay Margaret Olson's Obituary
Kay Margaret Olson Profile Photo
1945 Kay 2018

Kay Margaret Olson

April 12, 1945 — April 11, 2018

Kay Olson of Pine City, MN was peacefully called home to be with the Lord she loved, on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at Northern Pines Assisted Living. She breathed her last breath at 11:45 p.m., just 15 minutes before her 73rd birthday.

Kay Margaret Gilbertson was born at the Swedish hospital in Minneapolis, MN on April 12, 1945 to Harold & Margaret (Brehm) Gilbertson. She was blessed to have a particularly close relationship with her mother, whom she deeply cherished.

Kay spent most of her growing up years on Sargent Street in St. Paul, enjoying her friendships and the sweet comforts of that delightful neighborhood. Kay’s happy childhood was blessed with peppermint bon-bon ice cream and glazed donuts from the corner bakery where her mother worked; softball and kick-the-can in the alley, and many hours playing with her dog, Rusty, her hobby horse, Star, and her beloved big brothers Larry and David! Kay was confirmed at Emanuel Lutheran Church, where the Gilbertson family planted their spiritual roots.

In 1963, Kay graduated from St. Paul Central High School. She continued her education pursuing a degree in nursing at the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1967. Soon into her college experience, Kay met Jerry at the Lutheran Student Union. In trying to come up with a way to introduce himself to her, Jerry asked her what time it was, since he didn’t have his watch! It worked! Jerry and Kay were married on September 3, 1966.

After a year in Forest Lake, they moved to Pine City for Jerry to take a job. Soon they settled into the house that they have called “home” for almost 50 years. They became active members of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church where Kay taught Sunday School and confirmation classes for many years.

Kay worked for over 30 years as a public health nurse. She served as a WIC nurse, traveling to visit new moms and their children. It was a passion of Kay’s to coach her clients on healthy living and nutrition, which was a regular topic of conversation at the Olson dinner table! Kay invested in the lives of her children, David, Dan, Annie, and Amy, by supporting their various pursuits. She championed their efforts in sports and the arts, while never making it about winning or perfection. Adopting two daughters from Korea, Kay & Jerry made knowing their heritage a priority by the sending the girls to a week of Korean Culture Camp every summer. Kay learned how to cook several authentic Korean dishes and made Korean egg rolls (Mahn-du) for the Pine City Arts Fest for several years. Jerry and Kay wanted to give their children the chance to see different parts of the United States, so every summer they would load up the kids and camping gear and make precious memories together.

Kay and Jerry volunteered through Sowers Ministry and served at camps in Soldotna, Alaska and in Phoenix, Arizona for one month at each location. They participated in mission trips led by their son, David, to Oaxaca, Mexico and Costa Rica. In 2003, Kay and Jerry began their retirement years in Arizona, purchasing a home in Sun City. They quickly became members of the American Lutheran Church of Sun City, singing in the choir and serving the community, and making lasting friendships. In AZ, Kay volunteered as an ESL tutor. She was known as a caring and patient teacher. Her enormous love for horses led her to a meaningful volunteer opportunity, assisting children with disabilities at Health Directed Riding in Grandy, MN. In 2007, with the help of her niece, Jenelle, Kay, Jerry & her brothers’ families made a significant heritage trip back to Norway.

Kay’s hobbies included gardening (roses, a passion of her father’s), cake decorating (a skill she learned from her mother), cooking delicious meals, and staying active (golfing, biking, and XC skiing). She loved being at the cabin in Ely with Jerry, knowing that time spent in the Northwoods satisfied his soul, as well as her own.

Her diagnosis in January 2016 was devastating, but she held tightly to her faith and prayed to be able to go to her granddaughter’s wedding and celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary! She received more than she asked for! We are all grateful for the 2 ½ extra years we shared with her! Kay was known to say, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift! That is why it is called ‘the present!’” Her gentle, caring ways and beautiful smile were just a few of her endearing qualities. Although quiet in nature, she was a woman with an indomitable faith. Her favorite verse was Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” She was comforted, to her last breath, by the truth of Christ’s sacrifice for sins, His resurrection, and the promise of heaven.

Kay is survived by her loving husband Jerry Olson of Pine City; beloved children: David (Catherine) Olson of Northfield, Dan (Kris) Olson of Ely, Annie (Matt) Brenny of Ely, Amy (Mathew) Mellier of Palm Springs, California; precious grandchildren: Maria (Tim) Staudahar, Josiah Olson, Jessica Olson, Micah Olson, Jeremiah Olson and Elijah Olson, Blake (Monica) Brenny and Brooks Brenny; wonderful big brothers: Larry Gilbertson of Brainerd and Dr. David (Kathryn) Gilbertson of St. Paul.

Kay is preceded in death by her parents Harold and Margaret Gilbertson and sister-in-law Jo Gilbertson.

Kay’s family wishes to express their deep appreciation to all who prayed, brought food and helped in countless ways. We want to also thank the staff at Northern Pines and Hospice for their wonderful care.

Pastor Fred Hanson, and son, Pastor David Olson, will officiate a Celebration of Kay’s Life at 2:00 PM Friday, April 20, 2018 at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Pine City with a time of visitation at 1:00 PM. Interment will be in Birchwood Cemetery in Pine City.

Memorials may be made to Health Directed Riding in Grandy, Minnesota.

Funeral arrangements for Kay Olson are entrusted to: Funeral and Cremation Service of Pine City, Swanson Chapel.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Kay Margaret Olson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, April 20, 2018

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Central time)

Our Redeemer Lutheran Church

825 Golf Ave SW, Pine City, MN 55063

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Friday, April 20, 2018

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

Our Redeemer Lutheran Church

825 Golf Ave SW, Pine City, MN 55063

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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