March 4, 1932 – May 10, 2019


Noel Whitney Olson, age 87, St. Cloud, MN, died Friday, May 10, 2019 at his home in St. Cloud.

Funeral services will be Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 11:00 AM at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, St. Cloud, MN. Visitation will be Wednesday, May 15, 2019 from 4:00 to 7:00 PM at Benson Funeral Home, St. Cloud, MN and one hour prior to the service at the church on Thursday. Burial will be in North Star Cemetery, St. Cloud, MN.

Noel was born March 4, 1932 in Fergus Falls, MN to Clarence E. and Alfield B. (Forbord) Olson. He graduated from Fergus Falls High School in 1950. Noel married Kathleen “Kathy” Jacobson on June 18, 1954 in Ada, MN.

Noel played basketball, football and tennis at St. Olaf College, where he majored in physical education and biology before earning a master’s degree in physical education from the University of North Dakota. He played and coached basketball and baseball in the Air Force for three years, then coached for six years in Fertile and Virginia, MN. Noel launched his collegiate career at the University of Minnesota, Morris in 1963, then moved to St. Cloud State University in 1969, where he was twice honored as conference coach of the year. He became SCSU’s athletic director in 1976, and eight years later became commissioner of the North Central Conference. Noel retired in 1997 after amassing an array of awards for his athletic and leadership accomplishments. Noel made an impact on many lives throughout his career as a teacher, coach, mentor and father figure to countless people. He was a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

Survivors include his wife, Kathleen “Kathy” Olson of St. Cloud, MN; daughters, Julia Olson of St. Cloud, MN; and Carole (Tim) Kerkaert of Marshall, MN; grandson, Decker; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Mike and Dorothy Simpson of Minneapolis, MN.

He was preceded in death by his parents, daughter, Patricia Lynn Olson on August 18, 1975.

Memorials are preferred.