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Rev. Raymond Olson, 96; former president of Cal Lutheran University

October 25, 2006|From a Times Staff Writer

The Rev. Raymond M. Olson, the second president of what is known today as California Lutheran University, died Saturday at his home in Thousand Oaks, the university announced. He was 96.

Olson served as president of the Thousand Oaks school for nine years after founding President Orville Dahl stepped down in 1962. A former general secretary for stewardship with the American Lutheran Church, Olson was president of the school until 1971. He was named president emeritus in 1983.

"Without a doubt, Ray Olson left the mark of his generous spirit and his steadfast commitment at CLU," John R. Sladek, current president of the university, said in a statement. "He guided the college through challenging financial times and led the way for monumental changes that helped make CLU what it is today."

Olson was active in community affairs in the Conejo Valley as founding chairman emeritus of the Alliance for the Arts. He was also a founder of the Conejo Future Foundation, which pushed for creation of the Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks and helped address issues of growth and preservation in the region.

The son of Norwegian farmers, Olson was born June 15, 1910, in Eagle Grove, Iowa. He was educated in a one-room schoolhouse and was urged by his teacher to get a higher education, his family said. He earned a bachelor's degree from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., and a bachelor's in theology from Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. He was ordained into the Lutheran ministry in 1939.

He is survived by his wife, Helen; three children; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

His funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Ascension Lutheran Church, 1600 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks.

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