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Emma Florence Lesar Olson

Emma Florence Lesar Olson, 96, of Esko, Minn., passed away Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, embraced in the love of family, friends and community.

Emma was born Dec. 25, 1920 in Aurora, Minn., to Slovenian immigrant parents Vincent Lesar and Agnes Francel Lesar. Her youth on the Iron Range instilled a passion for learning, a commitment to civic participation and a love for music. After completing a two-year business degree, she married Millard Clayton Olson, a vocational agriculture teacher, in 1943 and moved to the Solberg-Olson farm in Esko in 1949.

Emma and Millard raised five daughters, managed the Olson strawberry farm from the 1950s to the 1980s, and helped start the Carlton County Farmers Market in 1983. Emma was known as "The Bread Lady" of the Carlton County Farmers Market and nourished customers for over 30 years with her wild rice, rye, wheat and Finnish cardamom breads. She was also a master preserver, accomplished gardener, cook, seamstress and mentor.

An active community member, Emma volunteered with the Minnesota Extension Service, including 4-H, the Belles of Brownell Homemakers group and Human Services committees; the Esko and Carlton County Fairs; Esko garden clubs; and many school programs. She served as an election judge and was recognized as a Carlton County Senior Citizen of the Year and a statewide Friend of Extension.

Emma is survived by daughters Corry (David) Gobeli of Corvallis, Ore., Wendy (Howard) May of Springfield, Ohio, Gail Olson (Erik Peterson) of Esko, and Marsha (Brent) Terry of Seattle, Wash.; daughter-in-love, Lisa Redman of Page, Ariz.; grandchildren, Anna, Ethan, Joel, Peter and Rachel; granddaughters-in-love, Julia and Molly; brother, Milan Lesar of Aurora, Minn.; and numerous nieces, nephews and great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Millard; daughter Marlene and son-in-law David Redman; grandson Andy May; and siblings, Agnes, Vincent, Frank, Frances, William and Art. Along with her family, her beloved friends brought deep joy and meaning to her long life.

The family is grateful to St. Mary's Hospice and Palliative Care Services for helping Emma pass on in dignity and comfort at the farm where she lived for over 60 years.

An open house celebration of Emma's life will be held this summer, from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, July 16.

Arrangements are in the care of the family and Atkins-Northland Funeral Home of Cloquet; notices will follow.

Memorials may be given in Emma's name to the University of Minnesota Extension Service: or the Carlton County Farmers Market, 125 Leonard Road, Esko, MN 55733.

January 12, 2017 ~ Pine Journal, Cloquet, Minn.