Sylvia Mae (James) Olson of Sioux City, Iowa, (formerly of Wakefield, Nebraska) passed away on Wednesday, October 31, 2018, at Brookdale Independent Living Center in Sioux City. Funeral services will be at 10:31 a.m. on Saturday, November 17, 2018, at Salem Lutheran Church in Wakefield with Pastor Patti Meyer officiating. Family visitation will be Friday, November 16, 2018 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at Bressler-Munderloh-Smith Funeral Home in Wakefield with a prayer service beginning at 7:00 p.m. Burial will be in the Wakefield Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Salem Lutheran Church. Arrangements are under the direction of Bressler-Munderloh-Smith Funeral Home in Wakefield, NE.
Sylvia was born May 10, 1931, in Milo, Missouri, to Elias Clinton and Thelma Bonita “Granny” (Dixon) James. She attended Allen High School in Allen, Nebraska. She was united in marriage to Raymond Magnuson in the spring of 1948 in Allen. She later married Merlin “Lefty” Olson on June 19, 1981, in Wakefield.
Sylvia lived in Wakefield for more than 50 years and supported the community as an active participant in various organizations. She loved singing and was a member of Salem Lutheran Church where she sang in the choir almost every Sunday. She was also a member of the Women of the ELCA, the Red Hat Society, Wakefield Heritage Organization and PEO. Sylvia reigned as the “First Lady of Wakefield” from 1981 until 1999. She enjoyed traveling with her husband Lefty and as Wakefield ambassadors, they visited and collected memorabilia from 22 Wakefields around the world. They also loved spending time together at Eaton Fields watching baseball. Sylvia donated many of Lefty’s Wakefield-related memorabilia and other personal items to the Wakefield Train Depot. Sylvia took great pleasure in gathering memorabilia of her own from her travels and life experiences and had lovely collections of bird figurines, tulips and other things she enjoyed.
She is survived by her sons, Robert Magnuson of Fort Myers, Florida, and his friend, Kathryn Cole of Fort Meyers, FL, and Richard (Pam) Magnuson of Sioux City, Iowa; daughter, Lori (Bill) Kurtz of Colorado Springs, Colorado; grandchildren, William Magnuson of Aurora, Colorado, Melinda (Russ) Hoogland of Sioux City, Iowa, Robert (Janice) Magnuson of Sioux City, Iowa, Amanda (John) Sullivan of Omaha, Nebraska, Thomas (Danielle) Magnuson of Le Mars, Iowa, Katharine Kurtz of Syracuse, New York, Kristine Kurtz of Santa Clara, California, Daniel Kurtz of Santa Clara, California, Tyler Magnuson of Tampa, Florida; step-grandchildren, Cole Siders and Carlie Siders of Sioux City, Iowa; 11 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
Sylvia was preceded in death by her husband, Lefty Olson; mother, Thelma James; brother, Wilmer Cleo “Buzz” James; and half-sister, Lulu Frey.