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ARRL Honorary Vice President, Director Emeritus Tod Olson, K0TO, SK


ARRL Honorary Vice President and Director Emeritus Tod Olson, K0TO (ex-W0IYP), of Minnesota and Idaho, died on November 12 after battling cancer for several years. An ARRL Life Member, he was 83. He began his volunteer service to ARRL in 1974 as the Minnesota Section Communications Manager. He became Dakota Division Vice Director in 1976, and then Director in 1982. In 1986, the ARRL Board of Directors elected him as ARRL Vice President of International Affairs, a post he held until 1990. He again served as Dakota Division Director from 1994 until 1999. The ARRL Board of Directors named him an ARRL Director Emeritus in 2000 and an ARRL Honorary Vice President in 2003.


Olson held a BS from the University of Minnesota, and an MPH from the University of Michigan. He belonged to the Minnesota Wireless Association and the Eagle Rock Amateur Radio Club. An active contester, he was inducted last May into the CQ Contest Hall of Fame. Earlier this year, he entered hospice care.

“Even through his entire illness, he was a positive force for everyone who knew him,” ARRL First Vice President and immediate past Dakota Division Director Greg Widin, K0GW, said. On the CQ-Contest reflector, former Dakota Division Vice Director Hans Brakob, K0HB, called Olson “my mentor, my teacher, sometimes my critic, and always a true and steady friend,” and said, “I feel like I have lost my brother.” Former ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, knew Olson well and offered these reflections:

“For young Tod Olson, 1952 was a life-altering year. He married the love of his life — and he became a radio amateur. For the next 64 years these two events set the course of Tod’s life. It is easy to imagine Tod’s hopes and dreams as he and Jackie began their life together, and to rejoice at how fully they were met: Five children, a successful and fulfilling career, and community service as the mayor of Long Lake, Minnesota. A lifelong interest in technology influenced Tod’s career as well as his choice of avocation; he retired in 1991 as Director of the Information Technology Department at General Mills.

“As he opened the envelope from the FCC containing his first license, it is unlikely that even Tod could imagine where Amateur Radio would take him, but he tackled his new avocation with the same energy and devotion as to family, career, and community. The Amateur Radio community was enriched by his selfless efforts and his life was enriched in return.

“As W0IYP, Tod soon began making his mark through local radio clubs and on-the-air activity. His passion for competitive operating, particularly in the ARRL November Sweepstakes, led him in 1973 to be the founding editor of National Contest Journal (NCJ). In 1976 he became K0TO. He was inducted into the CQ Contest Hall of Fame largely on the strength of his vision for NCJ and his willingness to do the enormous work that it took to launch, edit, and distribute a print publication in the days before personal computers.

“Tod served on every standing committee of the ARRL Board and twice was chairman of the Administration & Finance Committee. In recognition of his extraordinary contributions the ARRL Board elected him as Honorary Vice President in 2003.

“In retirement, Tod and Jackie divided their time between Minnesota and Idaho, and it was in Idaho Falls that Tod chose to enter hospice and to spend his final weeks with Jackie and other family members. His countless friends in Amateur Radio send their condolences to the family and our thanks for having shared him with us for so many years.”

A memorial service will held later in Minnesota.





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