In Memoriam – February 2019

Karrigan was bird lover, ACT volunteer John R. Karrigan is remembered as a longtime supporter of and volunteer for the […]

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Karrigan was bird lover, ACT volunteer

John R. Karrigan is remembered as a longtime supporter of and volunteer for the disability organization Advocating Change Together (ACT) and other groups. What some of his friends in the disability community might not know is that he was also a veteran bird watcher or “birder” and a writer about birds and nature.

Karrigan died in January after a 10-month battle with metastatic melanoma. He was 74 and lived in Minneapolis’ Powderhorn Park area.

A native of South Dakota, Karrigan was a graduate of Aberdeen Central High School. He attended college in South Dakota, Arizona and Minnesota,

He was a lifelong learner who enjoyed reading about history and current events. Karrigan was dedicated to his volunteer work with ACT, where he spent time and energy for several years.

He also wrote for many years for Minneapolis community newspapers, the now-defunct Powderhorn Paper and Southside Pride. At Southside Pride he was a beloved bird and nature columnist for many years. He was frequently seen in and around Powderhorn Park, wearing his binoculars to identify bird species. Readers enjoyed his work about birds, nature and the people of Powderhorn Park. In recent issues he had written about his cancer treatments.

Karrigan is survived by his long-time partner Bonnie Rae, siblings and other relatives and friends. Services have been held. Memorials are preferred to ACT or Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis.



Polio led to wheelchair sports

Dennis W. Olson’s childhood bout with poliomyelitis led to time as a wheelchair athlete in adulthood. Olson died in January at the age of 78.

A native of Donnelly, he spent his childhood and early teen years on a farm. At age 8 he contracted poliomyelitis and spent an entire year away from his family hospitalized in Minneapolis. He was a patient of the renowned Sister Kenny, whose often-innovate treatments offered good outcomes.

Olson grew up in a largely inaccessible world, walking with a brace and crutches. An obituary stated that “His courage, ingenuity and brute strength allowed him to find a way to achieve what he needed and was often a source of amazement, admiration — and even sometimes alarm — to others.”

His family moved to International Falls during his teen years. Olson married and raised six children, working as a life insurance salesman and enjoying many family activities. The family lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

He moved to the Twin Cities area in the 1990s and became active in wheelchair basketball and softball, playing for the Courage Center Rolling Twins from 1995 to 2005. The teams made trips to national tournaments around the country.

He is survived by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Services have been held.

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