Feb. 17, 1930 – May 26, 2012
Mitzi Hunter was born in Chicago. She attended Oak Park High School early each morning, rode the elevated train to downtown Chicago for rehearsals and performed on stage at the elegant Palmer House at night. She had studied dance from a young age and was now a beautiful, very talented Muriel Abbott dancer.
Muriel Abbott had strict rules of conduct for her dancers and an impressive budget for the elaborate costumes in each new show. Mitzi worked with famous entertainers such as Liberace, Imogene Coca and Victor Borge. A Hollywood agent approached Mitzi and urged her to move to Los Angeles for screen tests and a potential career in film.
However, Carolyn, Mitzi’s mother did not agree. Mitzi graduated high school with honors and enrolled as a drama major at Macalester College in St. Paul. She met James (Jim) Olson while acting in a play on campus. They married in 1951 and traveled to Massachusetts where Jim had a job as stage manager for the Falmouth Playhouse.
The happy couple took up residence in their own homemade travel trailer that Jim built and Mitzi furnished and decorated. They entertained the actors and Mitzi cooked in the tiny kitchen for stars like Walter Mathau and Eva Gabor.
Mitzi and Jim were inspired by their RV lifestyle and in 1953, returned to St. Paul to purchase 45 acres on the shores of Tanners Lake. It was their dream to build a park for travel trailers and the now popular larger mobile homes. Mitzi worked along side her husband to build their business beginning with construction of the Pure Oil Truck Stop and Tanners Lake Swimming Beach.
To finance the new park’s development, the couple sold their car and travel trailer and cashed in two life insurance policies to secure a mortgage and buy a tractor. Landfall became Minnesota’s smallest city in 1974 and was famous as the state’s premier manufactured housing community. Landfall had tennis courts, a community center plus several unique amenities that garnered attention from newspapers, national magazines and even local radio stations. Mitzi and Jim’s dream was becoming reality.
Mitzi enjoyed working in politics and the school PTA – all the while raising three children. Mitzi had a strong influence in her children’s lives always encouraging them to pursue their interests in the arts.
Mitzi studied painting and continued to dance, performing in several ballets along side her two daughters with the Andahazy Ballet Borealis Company. She appeared in productions of "Scheherazade, Petrushka" and "Swan Lake," to name a few.
Mitzi’s beloved husband died in 1985, but despite this enormous loss, Mitzi assumed responsibilities for Landfall and other businesses they owned. Some years later Mitzi met Richard Herreid. They became devoted to each other and enjoyed retirement, traveling extensively until his death in 2009.
Mitzi adored her cats and the multitudes of birds that came to her bird feeders year-round. She also loved and supported music within her family and community. Mitzi was a woman of grace and wisdom, helping all she knew. We love and miss her more than can be expressed. Affectionately we say, ‘Good bye.’
Mitzi is survived by her children, Jamie Olson (Paul Craggs), Wendy Olson, Todd Olson; grandchildren, Caitlin Craggs, Olivia Craggs, and Michael James Olson/Peterson. Please join us with stories, poems and reminiscences about Mitzi Marie Olson, with wine and music, from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday June 23, at Bradshaw Celebration of Life Center, 2800 Curve Crest Boulevard at the northwest corner of Minnesota Highway 36 and County Road 5 in Stillwater.