Oscar P. ‘Swede’ Ostrom, Jr., 93
Oscar P. "Swede" Ostrom Jr., 93, passed away on October 30, 2020 from complications of the Covid virus. He was a resident of the Elysian Bluffs senior housing facility, in Lake City.
Son of Oscar P. Ostrom Sr. and Hilda H. Ostrom, Oscar grew up with his younger brother Myles in the Ostrom family’s ancestral home, overlooking the Mississippi River, in Reads Landing, Minnesota. There was an eleven year age difference but never a gap. They were “Big Swede” and “Little Swede”. Big brother played endless hours of catch with Myles and never hesitated to take him along with the guys through adulthood. Oscar attended Reads Landing School, still standing, one of the oldest brick schoolhouses in Minnesota, where his mother was also a teacher. While in high school, in Wabasha, Mn, Oscar was a standout athlete, lettering in basketball, football, track, music and baseball. He played semi-pro baseball where his pitching abilities attracted the attention of major league scouts. Also an excellent swimmer, he once saved a young man’s life in a daring Mississippi River rescue, and was recognized by the American Red Cross for his efforts.
After high school, he was drafted and served his country from Ft. Benning, Ga, with the 82nd Airborne Paratroopers, where he was quickly promoted to Jump Master Instructor. One of his students was William Westmoreland, who years later served as General Commander of U.S. Forces during the Vietnam War. Westmoreland gave Oscar the nickname “Iron Duke”, reflecting his tenacity and challenging drills, given to the young jump recruits. Following his military service, Swede attended Hamline University in St. Paul, Mn, on the G.I. Bill, majoring in P.E. And coaching, while playing basketball for the Hamline Pipers.
Post college, he married his high school sweetheart who he met in the ninth grade, JoAnn Riester, from Wabasha. They were deeply devoted to each other and married for 40 years.
Oscar and JoAnn lived in St. Paul initially where he coached youth at The Neighborhood House, and later, after the birth of their daughter Sharon, began a 52 year career in the insurance business, as an agent, sales trainer, and agency owner. Moving to Des Moines, Iowa in 1966, and known for his integrity, humor and policy knowledge, Swede built deep and long-lasting relationships with clients and co-workers alike.
Along with family, playing the piano and golf were his life passions. He was fortunate to have been very good at both, well into his 80’s. He played professionally at The Metropolitan Club in Downtown Des Moines or informally wherever he encountered a piano. Many, many rounds of golf were played at Willow Creek Golf Course, and 42 years of tournaments at Pine to Palm in Detroit Lakes, MN and Tapemark Charity Pro Am, St, Paul. Swede reveled in the company of longtime buddies on and off the course. When referring to his golf game he would say, “Not bad for a lefty”.
JoAnn passed away in 1992. He later married Charlotte Creamer of Minneapolis. They resided in Des Moines until 2001, when they returned to Wabasha, Mn. Oscar delighted in giving tours of his boyhood school, which subsequently became a historical museum, telling groups “80 years ago I sat at this desk”. Char and Swede enjoyed the beautiful Minnesota river bluffs in the summer and the friendships and warmth of Arizona in the winter for many years, until his declining health prohibited further travel. Char provided her care and ongoing support for Oscar.
Oscar instilled in his family the hallmarks of his character; honesty, integrity, humor and compassion. A proud and active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, blessed with 49 years of sobriety, he never failed to reach out to struggling lost souls in need of help, again and again.
He lived every day, one day at a time, until his last. Guided by the Serenity Prayer, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
He leaves his wife of 27 years, Charlotte, her sons, Rob (Joanne) Thompson, and their sons Jack and Andrew (2007-2011) and Char’s son, Jim Thompson. Also remembering Swede is his daughter Sharon (Mike) Hatten, and their sons Benjamin Hatten (Kate) with baby Lucy, and Cooper Hatten (Kalli) with sons Myles and Bodhi. Also, Oscar’s brother Myles Ostrom and his wife Darcy Maixner with daughter Kelli Caffey (Curt).
Due to Covid restraints, a private burial was held at St. Felix Cemetery, Wabasha, Mn. A celebration of life at a later date is pending. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Reads Landing School, in honor of Oscar Ostrom Jr., Wabasha County Historical Society Museum, 869-899 3rd St., Reads Landing, MN 55986, appreciated.
Thanks, with gratitude, to the staff and hospice care at Elysian Bluffs.
Services entrusted to Abbott Funeral Home & Crematory, Wabasha, MN. Words of sympathy and remembrance can be given at www.abbottfh.com