Ole, as he was known to friends and colleagues, was the quintessential outdoorsman –angler, hunter, boater, camper, writer and editor – and also photographer, publicist, builder and craftsman, raconteur and communicator. In every endeavor, Olav was a perfectionist. Mid-Iowans knew him best through his long association with The Tribune.
Tribune business card
During his career with The Tribune as an outdoor writer and journalist, Olav reached thousands of readers with his Outdoors with ‘Ole’ column, published continually for almost four decades. After his retirement from the Iowa Department of Transportation, he expanded his writing and created a full-page spread each Thursday which he called the Outdoor Page. The first page appeared on October 22, 1970. He continued to write his weekly column as a component of the page, prepared many feature stories, sold the advertising that paid for the page, and did all of the layout and composition for it. His wife, Vivian, did the typing and read proof. Olav continued this weekly feature for 17 years until "retiring again." The last Outdoor Page was January 28, 1988. Olav had been an outdoor columnist for 17 years, and the outdoor editor of The Tribune for 22 years, for a total of 39 years when he said so long at age 83.
January 28, 1988
Olav’s dad and mother at their summer home Sunset at Coon Lake, Minnesota
Olav credited his mother, Agnes, with his intense love of nature, developed during long hikes in the countryside. Mother and son delighted in identifying numerous birds and wildflowers as they walked along the nearby Skunk River or through the woods surrounding the family parsonage in Roland, Iowa. As the youngest child of Norwegian immigrants, Olav shared the Norsk national tradition of growing up with nature. His parents had come to America in 1889 and settled six years later in Roland, where Gotfred served as pastor of Bergen Lutheran Church for 25 years.
Olav, the youngest of six children
Olav became a trapper at an early age, and related how he set his traps on his way to school, sometimes being sent home for a change of skunk-scented clothing.
In 1920, the family moved to Minneapolis where Olav graduated from Central High School. He attended the University of Minnesota for two years, studying forestry, and graduated from the two-year Smeby School of Advertising and Journalism. Olav was employed in the advertising field in many locations during the 1920s and 30s, including department stores in Winona, Minnesota, and Sidney, Montana. He also was advertising manager for numerous newspapers throughout Iowa including those in Perry, Atlantic, and Sioux City.