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Date of Issue: April 21, 2010

Obituaries

James Maxie ‘Elvis’ Byrd

James Maxie “Elvis” Byrd, 57, died March 31.

Mr. Byrd was a U.S. Navy veteran and was proud of his service. He was employed at the Island Publix.

A service was held April 17 at Roser Memorial Community Church in Anna Maria.

He is survived by his mother, Helen J. Byrd; sister Vickie L. Byrd; niece Ashley N. Henderson; uncles James L. Byrd and Donnie Vessels; and many friends.

William ‘Billy’ Easton

William “Billy” Easton, 53, of Bradenton died April 11.

Mr. Easton was the owner of Easton Racing and was a staple at Desoto Super Speedway. He was a member of the local band Boothill Express and was fondly known as “Mr. Bill the Island Man” on Anna Maria Island.

Visitation was April 16 at Griffith-Cline Funeral Home, Bradenton. A service was held April 17 at Griffith-Cline and burial followed at Skyway Memorial Gardens.

Survivors include his son, Anthony; brothers Robert L. and wife Pam, and John D. Horton and wife Marlene Parker; step-brothers, Roger L., Robert D. and Jeffrey D. Clark; step-sister, Cheryl Lopez; good friend, Allen Bragg; and many nieces and nephews.

Russell A. Olson

Russell A. Olson, 86, of Holmes Beach and formerly of Madison, Wis., died April 14.

Russ and Fran Olson remarried April 19, 2005, on their anniversary at the Key Royale Club.

Russ Olson organized bell ringers for the Salvation Army at the Publix in Holmes Beach through the Island Kiwanis Club

Mr. Olson was passionate about his family, his friends, his community and his country. He would have celebrated his 63rd wedding anniversary April 19 with wife Fran.

A World War II veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Olson fought in the Pacific. He settled on a farm in Wisconsin with his wife and four daughters. As an avid farmer, he served as a director of the Farm Bureau. In 1960 he became a Wisconsin state representative. For 25 years he served his state and his country, from the house to lieutenant governor of Wisconsin and eight years as midwest director of transportation during the Reagan administration.

As a Holmes Beach retiree, he continued his traditions. He had a long tenure as the president of the board of directors of the Westbay Point and Moorings Condo Association. As a lifelong Kiwanis Club member and past president, he was known for his commitment to providing many holiday seasons of Salvation Army bell ringers and the club’s Easter sunrise service.

Mr. Olson served the city of Holmes Beach on the board of adjustments.

In 2004, he received the Legion of Honor Award from the Kiwanis International Association. He frequented Holmes Beach city meetings and became known as a watchdog for his fellow citizens. He also wrote as a guest columnist for The Islander. His acerbic wit and sense of humor led him to become known as "The Grumpy Old Man." But what really kept him going was the friendships he had on the golf course.

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said he knew Olson for 20 years.

“He did a lot for the Island Kiwanis Club … he probably brought in more members than anyone in the history of the club,” Bohnenberger said.

He said Olson had a “super sense of humor.” Bohnenberger remembers when the roof on Holmes Beach City Hall needed replaced and Olson suggested, “Let’s leave it the way it is as a monument of stupidity.”

Also, Bohnenberger said Olson showed up to a city budget hearing with a suit and portfolio under his arm, and said, “I dressed like this because you only pay attention to people in suits.”

A celebration of Olson’s life was shared by friends and family at the Key Royale Club April 18. Memorial donations may be made to the Anna Maria Island Kiwanis Club, 11208 Veranda Court, Bradenton FL 34209.

Survivors include wife Fran of Holmes Beach; daughters Robyn Olsen of Bethlehem, N.H., Tamien and husband Mike Zeller of Zionsville, Ind., and Megan Supol of Crystal Lake, Ill.; grandchildren Emily, Abraham, Abra, Alex, Kyle, Brett, Katie, Grant, Greta, Anthony and Corinne; great-grandchildren James and Lucille; and a brother, James of Batavia, Ill.

Russ Olson sounded off about various matters of concern in The Islander newspaper in a column titles “Grumpy Old Man.”

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