Allen Hjalmar Olson died in his Sioux Falls apartment at the age of 75. He was born in May of 1947 in Sioux Falls to Nadine and Hjalmar Olson of Salem, South Dakota. Originally a member of the Salem Lutheran Congregation at Center, he later became a member of St. Mary Church in Sioux Falls.
His life revolved around sports, having worked with the athletic departments of Augustana College (Illinois and Sioux Falls campuses) the University of South Dakota, and providing event security at the Sanford Pentagon, Sioux Falls Schools, O'Gorman High School, and Huset's Speedway. He would often report having provided security for famous dignitaries and athletes, among his many interesting personal accounts.
Allen was a fixture in the world of South Dakota Baseball. He started umpiring baseball games at the age of 15 and would go on to umpire for nearly 60 years. He was recently inducted into the South Dakota Baseball Umpires Hall of Fame. More than anything, Allen enjoyed being with people, always looked forward to going to work, and people knew him everywhere he went.
He is survived by his older sister Ardella, of Denver Colorado; and three nephews: Fred of McKinney, Texas; Mike and Sami of Denver, Colorado.
A visitation will be held on Thursday, May 4th from 5-7 PM at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 330 Idaho St, SALEM. Funeral Services will be held on Friday, May 5th at 1 PM at the St. Mary Catholic Church, 2109 S 5th Ave, SIOUX FALLS, followed by a celebration of life from 2-4 PM. A private family burial will be held. Allen had specifically requested that guests wear their favorite South Dakota or other baseball attire (jerseys, umpire shirts, etc.). Memorials can be directed to the SD Umpires Association (48465 250th St., Garretson, SD 57030) www.kinzleyfh.com
From Hall of Fame Member Cam Lind
A couple of weeks ago a well-known local sports figure passed away and the family has asked me to post some thoughts about him.
I grew up about 2 1/2 miles from Al and we went to the Center Lutheran Church at the same time. We were in the same 4H Club and went to the Salem High School together. When I moved to Sioux Falls upon graduation in 1963, Al went to work at Don Anderson's Farmers Trading Post and also started umpiring baseball and softball.
Imagine my surprise a few years later when I was at a South Dakota State and Augie football game and there was Al patrolling the sidelines as the equipment manager for Augie. When that Augie coach moved on to Augustana of Illinois, Al went along as part of the staff.
A few years later he returned to the area and went to work at South Dakota University as their equipment manager. I would often see him at The Country Kitchen at 5:30 in the morning on his way to Vermillion on his way (a 200 mile daily round trip) from Salem that he made for several years. He was also umpiring both baseball and softball at the same time, so he must have gotten very little sleep.
One thing that I remember about him umpiring was that he was not always right, but it was not because of a lack of effort, hustle and being in charge was his forte.
Al had an amazing way of just showing up and kind of taking charge of things whether it was at a funeral or sporting event. He helped the local funeral homes whenever he felt called upon in many capacities.
I learned not to be shocked to see Al at any location, town or restaurant in a hundred fifty-mile radius. He had a regular circle of restaurants where you could see him daily.
Al was a fixture at every sports venue around, the Arena, T. Denny Center, "The Bird Cage", The Pentagon, Howard Wood Field, the Canova, Renner and Salem ball parks. If there was a sporting event around, you can rest assured Al was working there and in charge.
His proudest moment came with his induction into the South Dakota Baseball Umpire's Hall of Fame honoring him for many decades of service.
He was an honest, hardworking, simple living, caring, friendly and always smiling man.
Since his passing his legendary status and effect on the South Dakota sports scene has blossomed as the tributes roll in from the print media, radio, television and social media forums.
Allen (Al) Olson, Well Played 'Safe at Home' 4/28/2023