University Letter

UND's faculty and staff newsletter

Remembering Jerroll Dean ‘Jerry’ Olson

Jerroll D. “Jerry” Olson, former UND Football head coach, age 89 of Hoople, N.D., passed away Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, at the Lutheran Sunset Home of Grafton.

Jerry was born November 6, 1933, in rural Walsh County to Oliver and Ruby (Almen) Olson. He was the second of four children. Jerry grew up and attended school in Hoople where he played many sports for the Hoople Spuds.

He married Nadine Rodger in 1953. In 1955, Jerry graduated from Valley City State College where he lettered in three sports. After graduation, Jerry taught and coached at Pelican Rapids for five years.

He moved to Grand Forks where he became assistant coach for the UND football program. In 1968, he became the first North Dakota native to become head coach of the program and went on to coach many championship caliber teams. During that time he led UND to four NCC Championships. Jerry was named District Coach of the year and North Dakota College Coach of the Year in 1972. He had the honor of being inducted into both the UND Hall of Fame and the Valley City State Hall of Fame. Jerry was one of the original founders of Potato Bowl USA and was twice named the Grand Marshal of the Potato Bowl parade.

After his football career, Jerry began farming in Hoople where he also served on the boards of Hoople Farmers Grain and Hoople Potato Growers Association.

Jerry had an eclectic interest in car and furniture restoration. Throughout the years, Jerry restored many classic cars. One of his favorites was his red 1959 Ford pickup that was a staple in his garage. He also refurbished the original woodwork trim in the home he and Nadine shared along with many beautiful antique furniture pieces.

Above all, Jerry was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend who will be greatly missed. He took a genuine interest in the lives of his family and friends. His kindness and steadfast leadership will be missed by all who knew him.

He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Nadine, of Hoople; his children, Nancy Conover of Fort Collins, CO; Steve (Maren) Olson of Hoople; Barb Nilles of Mendota Heights, MN; and Patti (Kevin) Huppert of Ellsworth, WI; eight grandchildren, Rachel (Ryan) Burhans, Sarah Conover, Britt (Kevin) Godlington, Bennett (Dragana) Olson, Kari Olson, Margo Nilles, Adam (Shawna) Hupperts, and Andy (Becky) Huppert; 13 great grandchildren, several nieces and nephews, brother, Joel (Peggy) Olson and sister-in-law, Joyce Olson. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, LaVoy Olson; sister, Echo Bjertness; and two brothers-in-law, David Rodger and Ben Bjertness.

Memorial services will be Monday, March 13, 2023, at 2 p.m. at First Lutheran Church of Hoople. Visitation with family and friends will be held one hour prior to services. Inurnment will be at the Hoople City Cemetery. Memorials are preferred to the Hoople City Cemetery or the UND Jerry Olson Football Scholarship Endowment at UND Foundation, 3501 University Avenue, Stop 8157, Grand Forks, N.D. 58202. Jerry’s funeral will be live streamed on the First Lutheran Church of Hoople’s Facebook page.

An online guestbook is available at

The Tollefson Funeral Home of Grafton is in charge of the arrangements.