Judy and Larry Olson pose for a photo in their home, which is northeast of Hayward. The couple have been married for almost 50 years. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

Love lasts a lifetime

Published 10:15am Thursday, February 14, 2013

Theirs is a lasting love.

Judy and Larry Olson have been married just shy of 50 years. The two Albert Lea High School graduates (he in 1960, and she in 1963) met through her friend and his cousin. Their first date was to an Elvis movie in ’61, though neither can remember the title of the flick.

“We dated on and off,” Judy said.

Then they dated more seriously, and in August of ’63 were married. He was 21, she was 18. Now they’re fast approaching their 50th anniversary and said they’re thankful for each other.

“Most of those years went by fast,” Judy said.

This photo of Judy and Larry Olson was taken in June of 1963. The couple were married that August. -- Submitted

Their family has grown from their three children to include grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Their daughter Gina Gullickson is engaged to Randy Jensen, and they live near Twin Lakes and have children Dalton, Lexi and Daniel and his special friend Jessica Knutson. Their daughter Angie married Gary Langerud, and they live near Lewiston. Angie’s children include Amanda, married to Tyler, Ashley and Mariah. Ashley’s daughter is Brielle, who is one of two great-grandchildren for the Olsons. The Olsons’ son Steve married Sonya, and they live in rural Albert Lea. Steve and Sonya have sons Cody and Jordan, who is engaged to Emily. Jordan and Emily have Hudson, who is the Olsons’ second great-grandchild. Judy said she thoroughly enjoys caring for and visiting with her large family.

“It’s great therapy for me,” Judy said.

And it’s therapy that she’s especially thankful for, because of recent health problems. Judy had been cancer-free since being diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare tumor of the eye’s retina, when she was 3 months old. Then in 2010 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After chemotherapy, radiation and surgery it seemed to be gone, until 2012 when more cancer was found in her abdomen. Judy is upbeat about it and said it thankfully hasn’t spread to any vital organs yet.

“I don’t sit home and feel sorry for myself,” Judy said. “I have the best family I could have.”

Family and friends have sent her almost 500 cards in the mail, and Judy said Larry and sometimes her children and grandchildren come along to her treatments.

“It’s not a fun journey, but I’m not ready to give up yet,” Judy said.

Judy is retired from the Albert Lea School District after 34 years of being a para educator. Larry is still working as a metal fabricator. He’s now at Pro Manufacturing, but had been a metal fabricator at the local packing house for 38 years until it burned in 2001.

While they’ve had plenty of good times, there were also those times when they would disagree. She can’t remember what the argument was about, but Judy clearly remembers how she tried to punish Larry for “being in the doghouse.”

Judy packed Larry’s lunch for years, and one time when she was annoyed she sent him to work with just a can of Vet’s dog food, a spoon and a can opener. She was quite surprised when he came home with a dirty spoon and empty can. Larry said he remembers eating at the plant’s restaurant that day, and he and some co-workers fed the dog food to some wild cats who hung around the packing house.

“I just kind of laughed and thought she got me,” Larry said.

The spat wasn’t a serious one, and both Judy and Larry say it takes work to stick together. Communication, trust and honesty were the main values they listed.

“And any big decisions, we always talk them over,” Larry said.

Judy said it’s important for parents to agree to the same discipline for children and also to agree to be a team and not have one person who makes all the decisions.

“You have to have patience and be creative,” Judy said.

Larry also had some practical advice: even if you don’t want to do something, if your mate wants to then you should do it with a smile.

“Fifty years is an accomplishment,” Judy said. “Hopefully we have more years coming.”

Their faith has also been an important part of their relationship, and Judy said God has given them the strength to get through unexpected events.

“We know that each day’s a gift,” Judy said.

The winners

Judy and Larry Olson won the Tribune’s Romancing the Heart contest, and their submitted story was published Feb. 7. They won a $50 gift certificate to Crescendo in Albert Lea.