Craig Louis Olson was born December 21, 1947, to C. Franklin and Bertha Jane (Olson) Olson, in Waterloo, Iowa. He was a 1966 graduate of West Waterloo High School. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in fish and wildlife biology and his master’s degree in limnology.
On August 29, 1970, he was united in marriage to Ilean Gulden in Waterloo. To this union they were blessed with two children: Neil and Heidi. They made their home in Marshalltown where Craig worked as a Water Pollution Control Director. He went on to work in WPC for Muscatine, Dubuque, and Duluth. In 1997, Craig and Ilean moved to Pella where Craig purchased two Subway restaurants. He also built Subways in Monroe and Carlisle, and retired in 2018.
Craig passed away at Taylor House (Hospice) on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 with his wife and son by his side.
From a young age, Craig’s love for family, fishing, and golf was clear. He spent a lot of time golfing with family and friends and fishing with his dad and brothers in Canada or on the Turkey River. He loved instructing others with patience and generosity to improve their lives, their golf game, or even their ability to catch smallmouth bass.
Craig was a strong businessman, having managed or owned businesses for most of his life. However, business came second to his family as he would drop everything- even major business deals/events to support his wife and kids. Craig lived his faith through his actions.
Soccer was a developing sport as Craig’s kids were little. He took the bull by the horns and learned the sport so he could coach each of their teams. As the kids grew he became a driving force behind the beginning phases of the Dubuque Soccer Complex. Then as the family moved to different cities, Craig continued his support for sports by making Subway sandwiches for the referees at the Iowa Games through the Iowa Sports Foundation. His love for family and competition continued as he attended his grandkids’ soccer games, track events, show choir performances, and pretty much anything they tried.
His love for people was clear in every area of his life. He would strike up a conversation with just about anyone as he has never met a stranger. He was known for giving his vacations away to employees and also helping people during their time of need.
One of Craig’s beliefs was to “leave this place better than you found it”. This held true when at golf courses, vacation homes, or each city in which he lived. His legacy is that he truly made this place better than he found it.
Those left to cherish his memory are his wife Ilean, his son Neil (Cynthia) Olson of Ankeny and their children: Ella, Avry and Bennett; his daughter Heidi (Adam) Hirschy of Clive and their children: Taya, Eden, Nia, Judah and Israel. He is also survived by his brothers: Rodney (Maureen) Olson of West Des Moines, and Scott Olson of Des Moines. He is also survived by his mother-in-law Idell Gulden of Waterloo, Iowa and several brothers in law and sisters in law, as well as nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents C. Franklin and Bertha Jane Olson, and his father-in- law LeRoy Gulden.
The family will have a private burial. A visitation will happen at Cordova Pavilion by Lake Red Rock on Friday, June 26th from 2:00-5:00. A special celebration of life service will take place during this time at 3:30.
In lieu of flowers, please give all memorials to Lions Club (KidsSight) or Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Lions Club - KidSight