After a heartbreaking cancer diagnosis, LeRoy Juel Olesen passed away at the age of 84. LeRoy departed for his journey home on May 26th, 2023. LeRoy was a devoted husband, loving father, proud grandfather and faithful friend. Those of us who had the privilege of sharing his life here on Earth are certain that LeRoy is now gardening away in the eternal, magnificent gardens of Heaven alongside Christ the King himself.
LeRoy was born in 1938 in Madison, South Dakota, to Lewie and Mae Olesen. After graduating from high school in Sinai, LeRoy earned a two year teaching degree from Dakota State University. At the young age of 19, LeRoy signed his first teaching contract in Arlington, South Dakota. While teaching P.E. at Pinedale Elementary in Rapid City, LeRoy met the love of his life, Peggy Swanson. The P.E. teacher and the (most beautiful, no doubt) kindergarten teacher – what a love story!
In addition to his remarkable 38 year teaching career, LeRoy coached youth basketball in North Rapid City for many years. He was an innovative, engaged and passionate teacher and coach who cared deeply for his students and athletes. During a recent conversation with a former student, LeRoy was able to recall all of the players on his 1972 Indian Men’s Club team. LeRoy genuinely cared for each and every one of his students and athletes and sincerely delighted in their accomplishments.
LeRoy and Peggy went on to raise their incredible son, Lee, and shared 37 wonderful years of marriage together. LeRoy and Peggy were outstanding influencers in the lives of hundreds of schoolchildren, legendary dance instructors, dedicated attenders at all of Lee’s sporting events, and generous friends to all that were blessed enough to know them. Eventually LeRoy and Peggy claimed their most treasured title of all: Grandma and Grandpa. LeRoy was, simply put, grandpa extraordinaire. There was certainly never a dull or idle moment with Grandpa LeRoy. His patience was unmatched and there wasn’t a project in the world he didn’t prefer to tackle with his granddaughters in tow. Mowing the lawn, planting trees, raking and jumping into piles of leaves, decorating for the holidays, running through the sprinklers, eating desserts and piecing together puzzles are memories that will be forever cherished by his precious granddaughters.
In Heaven, LeRoy joined his parents, Lewie and Mae; brother, Loren; sister, Marjorie, and her husband, Danny Barker; and nephew, Steve Barker. In loving spirit, he will continue to watch over his wife, Peggy; son, Lee; daughter-in-law, Tomi; and beloved granddaughters, Charli and Layne.
LeRoy will be remembered for his kind, generous, joyful, patient and enthusiastic spirit, his magnificent gardens, his clever pranks, his love for ice cream, and for all of the ways in which he touched so many lives. In memory of LeRoy, we will be contributing all funds donated in his honor to the P.E. Department of Valley Christian School in Missoula, MT. LeRoy’s beloved granddaughters attend Valley Christian and we are certain he would value and approve of his legacy being carried out in the tangible form of P.E. equipment that will be used by countless children.
A visitation will be held from 4:00-6:00 p.m. Thursday, June 8th at Garden City Funeral Home. A celebration of LeRoy’s life will be held at 10:00 a.m. Friday, June 9th, followed by a reception at Garden City Funeral Home. We miss you greatly, our dearest LeRoy, and we will hold you close to our hearts until we meet again.