Remembering Selkirk-born Laufey Olson

A Manitoba deaconess for four decades, a passionate leader in the province’s Lutheran Church

By Fred Morris

Sister Laufey Olson, Deaconess from 1959-1969

As the Lutheran Church celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, it is appropriate to remember one of Manitoba’s legendary Lutherans. In 1917, Laufey Olson was born in Selkirk. She married Pastor Carl Olson. They served in Flin Flon and a couple of Nebraska parishes. After his 1951 death, she continued her church work. Between 1952 and 1955, she was the parish secretary of Grace Lutheran in Lincoln, Neb. She earned two university degrees. On June 8, 1959 she was consecrated as a deaconess.

She served as a deaconess for Arborg Riverton, St. Stephens and First Lutheran Church. She was active, with church visiting, Sunday school and vacation Bible school. During her 10 years at First Lutheran, 1959 to 1969, the parish hall was built and the main church was renovated. Between 1969 and 1982, she was the director of Christian education at Advent Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minn. In 1982, she returned to Winnipeg. In her retirement, she remained active in First Lutheran Church. In 1999, she preached the sermon to mark her 40 years as a deaconess.

In 1988, she became an original resident of the Betelstadur Housing Cooperative Ltd. a Sargent Avenue seniors community in Winnipeg’s old west end. Between 1997 and her death in 2004, she was the president of Betelstadur, consistently providing strong, passionate leadership, backed up by the belief that all residents had to work together.

During her term, Betelestadur hosted the bishop of Iceland and the Gradville Icelandic choir. She worked with Daniel Mac high school and local MLA, Mary Anne Mihichuk, to introduce the seniors into the computer age. She fought for the best interests of Betelstadur when the neighbourhood bank was replaced by a restaurant.

She is commemorated by a picture in the lobby of Betelstadur. First Lutheran named one of their six buddy groups in her honour.

Fred Morris describes himself as a political activist and sometime political candidate.

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