Bruno Vincent Ollie was born in New York Mills on July 20, 1921, to Arthur and Selma (Thompson) Ollie. This was a time when the community was a Finnish enclave and the land was still being cleared by axe and horse team for farming. The work was arduous, but with four older brothers and three sisters, there was plenty of time to hunt, fish, and cross-country ski. After graduating in 1941 he remained on the farm until 1945 when he joined the army, spending one year in Okinawa in the army signal corp.
Upon discharge at the end of WWII, he returned to the farm and resumed his courtship with Louise Hammes. They were united in marriage on Feb. 15th, 1947 at St. Fredrick’s Catholic Church, Verndale. Thereafter, they moved to Minneapolis where Bruno attended the Gale Institute for training as a railroad agent/telegrapher working part-time at Snyder’s Drug Store on Hennepin and Lake, while Louise worked for Munsingwear. His first railroad job was for the Northern Pacific Railway Company in Marsh, MT, where they lived in a “remodeled” box car next to the railroad tracks. They literally moved down the tracks after that, returning to Wadena/New York Mills area where they raised their son, Steven and daughter, Sandra.
Bruno was enchanted by the romantic era of the railroad with massive, brutish, billowing steam engines; the click of the telegraph; the box cars full of hobos; the coal burning pot-bellied stove and the comradery of the railroaders. He retired in 1982 after 35 years of employment, but these family friendships lasted their lifetimes.
Bruno’s long life was distinguished by his vigor and enthusiasm. He never seemed to get old. He and Louise enjoyed cross-county skiing in Blacks Grove, square dancing, and traveling into their 80’s. He continued to garden, hunt and fish into his mid-90’s. The shuffle of a card deck was music to his ears and a $20.00 win on the penny slot machines was like winning the lotto. A more devoted Twins fan would be rare to find. He was a member of St. Ann’s Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus and a lifetime member of the Elmer Goche VFW Post #3922 of Wadena. He gave whole-hearted support to the worthwhile efforts of these organizations.
Bruno passed away on June 11, 2019 at the age of 97 at the Perham Living Center from prostate cancer. He was preceded in death by his parents, Arthur and Selma; wife, Louise; brothers: Clifford, Ernest, Chester and Melvin and sister, Helen Tikkanen.
He is survived by sisters: Joyce Heino and Dagmar Bernu; son, Steven (Cheryl) Ollie of Caldwell, ID; daughter, Sandra (John) Warp of Moose Lake, MN; 6 granddaughters: Sarah Wilson (Toby) of Eagle, ID; Naomi Ollie (David Meyer), of Sheridan, WY; Abby Ollie (Troy Butler) of Meridian, ID; Shawn Holmes (Greg) of Lino Lakes, MN; Melissa Warp (Josh Meltzer) of Rochester, NY; Kimberly Warp of Pewaukee, WI; ten great-grandchildren; numerous other relatives and many friends.
We wish to thank our friends and family. They gave us help and support during the last years of Bruno and Louise’s lives and when the tornado destroyed their home in 2010. Thank you to the caregivers at the Perham Living Center and to Hospice of the Red River Valley.
Bruno was blessed with a long and happy life and we were fortunate to be gifted by his optimism and enthusiasm.
Any donations in his memory may be made to a local charity of your choice.