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David Olson, long-time Minnesota Chamber head, dies of cancer at 57

Words of condolence from around the state were coming in today to the family and friends of David Olson, the longtime president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, who died Wednesday night.

He was 57, and died from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He’d been fighting the cancer for 18 months, and recently was thought to have been in remission.

Olson had been the much-respected head of the Chamber since 1991. The Chamber says it represents “over 2,300 Minnesota companies, 130 local chambers and 65 business trade associations at the Minnesota Legislature on a variety of issues that impact Minnesota’s economy.”

The Chamber web site says Olson also was a member of:

“… the National Association of Manufacturers Board of Directors, United Way Board of Directors, Northern Star Council Boy Scouts Board of Directors. He is chair-elect of the Council of State Manufacturers Association and co-chair of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council. He also serves on a number of business and community work groups.

“Olson is a former member of the Metropolitan Economic Development Association Board of Directors. He also served six years on Minnesota State Colleges & Universities Board of Trustees and during this time served as chair from 2007 – 2010. In 2010, he was selected to serve as chair of the Chancellor Search Committee.”

Among the condolences coming in:

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar:

“David Olson was a champion for Minnesota’s business community. His memorable sense of humor and undeniable work ethic were gifts that he used to build relationships and deliver on important issues for Chamber members across the state. I will remember David as someone always willing to listen and work with people across the political spectrum.”

State Rep. Kurt Zellers, GOP candidate for governor and former state House Speaker:

“It is a sad day for the business community throughout Minnesota. David Olson was a strong leader who worked hard to get things done. He lived his life with integrity and humor, and was truly a class act.”

Harry Melander and Nancy Norr of Jobs for Minnesotans:

“He was passionate about jobs and business and growth. He was a tough negotiator, but he was always fair, always aware of the greater good and the bigger picture. We’ll miss his guidance and governance, but most of all, we’ll miss his friendship.”

DFL House Speaker Paul Thissen:

“He cared about Minnesota and its success, was willing to take risks for its improvement, and always worked in a straight-forward approach to improve our state. He will be missed.”

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