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1946 Leland "Lee" 2023

Leland "Lee" Myron Olson

August 9, 1946 — October 11, 2023

New Hope

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Lee Olson of New Hope passed away Wednesday, October 11, 2023 at Good Samaritan Ambassador in New Hope at the  age of 77.

Leland Myron Olson was born August 9, 1946 to Myron and Audrey (Mell) Olson in Rush City, Minnesota.

Lee’s motto in life has been “Live, Love and Laugh”! Drawn to comedians such as Red Skelton and W.C. Fields, Lee became “Choo-Choo the Clown”. A member of the St. Paul Clown Club from 1995-2005, he took part in parades and performed at charity fundraisers. He also did Christian clowning at churches and nursing homes. Trains were his childhood love and he’d hop freight trains to take him from his hometown of Rush City to North Branch where he’d catch a ride home with his grandpa Olson. Therefore, Lee’s trademark as “Choo-Choo” was a train whistle. Always eager to put a smile on the face of someone lonely or forlorn, “Choo-Choo” put aside his own health struggle with Multiple Sclerosis. Diagnosed in 1982 at age 34, his faith and love of life supported his determination to manage the disease. For eight years he was co-facilitator of the Maple Grove MS Support Group.

As a youth, he reached the rank of Star Scout and accomplished the Pro Deo Et Patria religious award as an Explorer Scout. A member of  his high school band (he played cornet), Lee volunteered for several years to play “Taps” with the VFW Honor Guard at eleven cemeteries on Memorial Day. After high school he served as a cook at the Philmont Scout Ranch International Training Center near Cimarron, New Mexico. That was also his job as a US Army Reservist.

Lee was employed as a state-wide examiner on the 1st Bank System Road Crew in Montana. He was transferred back to Minneapolis in 1971 and worked for twenty-six years at Larson Transfer and Storage, PDSI, in sales, tariffs, and specialized carriage. He was the evening driver of the courtesy shuttle at Suburban Chevrolet in Eden Prairie for nine years, until his retirement in 2009.  Being outgoing and very social, he relished the driver position where he met and engaged with thousands of interesting people and was able to copy down over 2,000 personalized license plates which he would include in his annual Christmas letters. Those letters, which were sent for nearly 40 years, were always fondly looked forward to by the 160 recipients on his list.

Of Norwegian/Swedish ancestry; Lee was a fan of Lutefisk; which brought him to House of Hope Lutheran for such a dinner. He enjoyed the fellowship so much he attended services the following Sunday and became a proud and active member of the church in 2004.  

Lee is survived by his brother Steve Olson of Brooklyn Center; nephew Ben Baker of Eau Claire, Wisconsin; many dear friends and family.

He was preceded in death by his parents Myron and Audrey Olson; sister Patricia Baker; nephew Chad.

Funeral services for Lee: 11 AM; Wednesday (10/25) at the House of Hope Lutheran Church in New Hope with a time of visitation one hour prior to the service at the church. The interment will take place in First Lutheran Cemetery, Rush City the same day at 2:30 PM.

Memorials may be directed to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, P.O. Box 88540, Carol Stream, IL 60188.

Arrangements are entrusted to the: Funeral and Cremation Service of Rush City, Olson Chapel

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, October 25, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

House of Hope Lutheran Church

48 Boone Ave N, New Hope, MN 55428

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

Funeral Service

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

House of Hope Lutheran Church

4800 Boone Ave N, New Hope, MN 55428

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


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