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home : columns : dave fjeld
October 18, 2019

9/11/2019 3:23:00 PM
Arnie will be missed
Last week, the Windom community said goodbye to lifelong Windom resident Arnie Olson.
Arnie died Aug. 30 and his funeral was Thursday.
He was a 37-year employee of the local telephone companies and was still doing that when I came to Windom in January 1984 to be the Citizen sports editor. His youngest son, Jeff, was on the Eagle basketball team at the time and I did little more than learn who were Arnie and his wife, Delores, during the basketball season.
It wasn't until the 1984 baseball season that I got to know Arnie and Delores a little better. More on that in a moment.
Over the years, I learned much more about Arnie. I got to know Arnie and Delores's late son, Jay, when Jay was playing for the Windom Pirates. He was a slugger and when he took a swing, well, let's just say he never got cheated - and more often than not, he connected.
Then I began to hear the stories of Jay and Jeff's older brother, Lew, who is in the Windom Athletic Hall of Fame. Lew not only played for the Windom Pirates, but I heard many more stories about his playing days with the Dundas Dukes. They are legendary.
But their love for baseball orginated with one man - their dad. There's little question that Arnie passed his love of baseball on to his sons.
I got to know Arnie a little better through his connection with the Windom Baseball Association. He served on the WBA board of directors for a number of years and was one of the men who helped bring baseball and football to Island Park in the early 1960s.
I had heard about Arnie's days playing baseball in Windom, but I got to know them a little better when I became a general news reporter for the Citizen in 1999. I started doing the "Reflections" column on page 3 and would read about Arnie as a player-coach in the 1950s and '60s.
Arnie has been a vital part of Windom baseball for many years and gave a lot to the game in Windom.
But what will always stick with me about Arnie and Delores is what they did during the baseball Eagles' state tournament championship run in 1984. Their son, Jeff, played first base on the team. At that time the Class A State Tournament was in St. Cloud.
The Eagles had moved on to the semifinals after a quarterfinal victory. However, the semifinals the next day were rained out and I went to a St. Cloud restaurant that day for something to eat.
Now, I had been in Windom just six months and was still getting to know people. In fact, aside from my co-workers at the Citizen, the coaches and a few of the players, I knew very few people in Windom.
As I sat down, I looked across the aisle and Arnie and Delores were sitting at a table. They graciously waved me over and asked that I join them. I accepted their kind gesture and we had a nice conversation - and not just about baseball. They offered me some tips about Windom that helped me greatly and I have never forgotten the kindness they showed me then and throughout the years.
Arnie was a smart baseball guy and when he stepped away from the baseball diamond and into the stands, he took his playing talent to the golf course. He was a pretty fine golfer and continued to play the game right up until this year.
Arnie always seemed to have a quiet intensity about him. I rarely saw him raise his voice, but if something was wrong, he let who needed to hear it, hear it. He also was very firm about his stance on various topics - some on which he couldn't be swayed, others that he would certainly give a listening ear.
I always respected him for that.
And, oh, was he knowledgeable about the game of baseball. He had played the game all his life and I doubt there wasn't anything he hadn't seen happen on the field or in a game.
I'll miss seeing Arnie at the ballpark and the golf course. Indeed, life will be a little empty without Arnie.
More good reads coming
Next week, I'll get back to sharing about a couple of books I read while on vacation:
•  "Ten Innings at Wrigley: The Wildest Ballgame ever, with Baseball on the Brink" by Kevin Cook.
•  "K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches" by Tyler Kepner.

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