Sylvia M. Olson

November 14, 2018 GMT

Sioux City, formerly Wakefield, Neb.

Sylvia Mae (James) Olson of Sioux City, formerly of Wakefield, passed away Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, at Brookdale Independent Living Center in Sioux City.

Services will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Salem Lutheran Church in Wakefield, with the Rev. Patti Meyer officiating. Burial will be in Wakefield Cemetery. Family visitation will be 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at Bressler-Munderloh-Smith Funeral Home in Wakefield.

Sylvia was born on May 10, 1931, in Milo, Mo., to Elias Clinton and Thelma Bonita “Granny” (Dixon) James. She attended Allen (Neb.) High School.


She was united in marriage to Raymond Magnuson in the spring of 1948 in Allen. She later married Merlin “Lefty” Olson on June 19, 1981, in Wakefield.

Sylvia lived in Wakefield for more than 50 years and supported the community as an active participant in various organizations. She loved singing and was a member of Salem Lutheran Church, where she sang in the choir almost every Sunday. She was also a member of the Women of the ELCA, the Red Hat Society, Wakefield Heritage Organization and PEO. Sylvia reigned as the “First Lady of Wakefield” from 1981 until 1999. She enjoyed traveling with her husband, Lefty, and as Wakefield ambassadors, they visited and collected memorabilia from 22 Wakefields around the world. They also loved spending time together at Eaton Fields watching baseball. Sylvia donated many of Lefty’s Wakefield-related memorabilia and other personal items to the Wakefield Train Depot. Sylvia took great pleasure in gathering memorabilia of her own from her travels and life experiences and had lovely collections of bird figurines, tulips and other things she enjoyed.

She is survived by her sons, Robert Magnuson of Fort Myers, Fla., and his friend, Kathryn Cole of Fort Myers, and Richard (Pam) Magnuson of Sioux City; daughter, Lori (Bill) Kurtz of Colorado Springs, Colo.; grandchildren, William Magnuson of Aurora, Colo., Melinda (Russ) Hoogland of Sioux City, Robert (Janice) Magnuson of Sioux City, Amanda (John) Sullivan of Omaha, Thomas (Danielle) Magnuson of Le Mars, Iowa, Katharine Kurtz of Syracuse, N.Y., Kristine Kurtz of Santa Clara, Calif., Daniel Kurtz of Santa Clara, and Tyler Magnuson of Tampa, Fla.; stepgrandchildren, Cole Siders and Carlie Siders of Sioux City; 11 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

Sylvia was preceded in death by her husband, Lefty Olson; mother, Thelma James; brother, Wilmer Cleo “Buzz” James; and half sister, Lulu Frey.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Salem Lutheran Church.