Cover photo for James Garland Olson's Obituary
James Garland Olson Profile Photo
1958 James 2024

James Garland Olson

May 3, 1958 — February 6, 2024

Detroit Lakes

James Garland Jr. came into this world as a perfectly healthy baby boy to James & Cacilia (Ubelhor) Olson on May 3, 1958, in El Paso, Texas. His mama nicknamed him Bubi which means little boy in German, so that’s what his family called him.  Bubi moved with his mom, dad and older sister Patty to Heilbronn, Germany at 2 months old.  Shortly after the move, Bubi got very sick and was hospitalized with a dangerously high fever. The family thought all was well but after he got a little older and was never able to speak more than a few words, doctors believed the high fever he had as an infant caused brain damage and developmental disability.

Jimmy’s military family made a few more moves but Detroit Lakes became their permanent home in 1966 because Minnesota was considered progressive in offering help to families with disabled children. His parents made the heart wrenching decision to have their young child, what was referred to at the time, “institutionalized.” He spent the rest of his life in Brainerd, Fergus Falls, Roseau’s Children’s Hospital and finally in 1997 after his mama passed away, he moved to The Divine House Group home in Detroit Lakes and lived there until the day he died.

What progress our country and state has made in providing care for people with disabilities. The Divine House was Jimmy’s family for 27 years giving him the loving & expert care that his family could not provide.  They truly loved him. Jimmy also worked at the DAC for many years until one day, he refused to get on the bus.  He decided it was time to retire. He loved being the only one at home with undivided attention from his caregiver!

Even though Jimmy was not verbal he could communicate his needs. He’d lead you over to the coffee pot when it was time for his coffee fix or sweet treat.  He let you know whether he was happy, a little mad or sad, without being able to say a thing.    

 Having a disability doesn’t mean you are less, in fact, Jimmy had a great impact on his family and caregivers.  He reminded us not to complain about our lives and to be thankful that we are able to do things on our very own.

 Jimmy was very flexible and could twist himself up like a pretzel in his recliner.   That’s where he was when he died of natural causes at the age of 65.  Jimmy’s family is eternally grateful & thankful to all those who have taken care of him over his lifetime.   Especially, Deb Shriver, Chad & Laura Baethke, Angie Travis, Ronald Lawrence, Tracey Peshev, Cheyenne Dallman, Jerykka Carlisle, Ashley Troyna, Charlesetta Parwon, Peterson Mahsuo and all of the countless angels who cared for him over the years.

Jimmy was preceded in death by his parents Cacilia and James, grandparents Albert & Maria Ubelhor, Peter & Lena Olson and many aunts and uncles.   He is survived by his sister Patty (Dave) LaBarre of Detroit Lakes, brother Tom Olson of Audubon and nieces and nephews including Monique Badlani (Amman) of New York, Jack LaBarre of Detroit Lakes, Kayla (Aaron) Johnson of Lake Park and Matt Olson of Audubon, all of the Divine House angels and his long-time roommates Bryan LeDoux and Emily Wittnebel.

West Kjos Funeral home is in charge of arrangements and a private get together with family and Divine House will be held at 4:00 in the afternoon at the Detroit Lakes City Park.  Amanda Olson officiating.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Garland Olson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Gathering

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Starts at 4:00 pm (Central time)

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