Former City of Stoughton Mayor Donna Olson and her husband Randy have been named the top Syttende Mai royalty for 2020.
The reveal was made at the annual Norse Afternoon of Fun, held on Sunday, Feb. 9. Every year, the event, held by the Stoughton High School Norwegian Dancers at SHS, crowns the upcoming year’s Syttende Mai royalty and gives out the Community Appreciation award to a Stoughton area resident.
Donna and Randy were both raised on dairy farms in rural Crawford County and graduated from North Crawford High School in Gays Mills. They started dating in 1975, and were married in July, 1977.
In October 1977, Randy and Donna moved to Madison, when Randy began working at Universal Silencer, a division of Nelson Industries in Stoughton. They moved to Stoughton in 1978, and joined Christ Lutheran Church. Not long after the move to Stoughton, Randy became very popular with the local tobacco farmers when they learned that he could “hang tobacco.”
Stoughton’s Norwegian history is a great fit. Randy’s family immigrated from Aardal near Luster, Norway, in 1866. Both Randy’s maternal and paternal families came from the same region in Norway. They sailed to the port of Milwaukee and settled in Soldiers Grove.
The couple has two daughters and four grandchildren. Their daughters were both born in Stoughton, baptized at Christ Lutheran Church and graduated from Stoughton High School. Andrea, her husband Chad Herpel and daughter, Boston, live in Evansville. Jessica, her husband Ryan Keller and three sons; Bennett, Lincoln and Jackson, also live in Evansville.
Randy began his career in 1977 at Universal Silencer in Stoughton. At that time, Universal was a division of Nelson Industries. He was a member of the management team that purchased Universal from Cummins in 2007 in order to keep the company in Stoughton. Universal Silencer, now a division of Durr, still remains in Stoughton. Randy has been employed by Universal Silencer for over 40 years.
Donna began working for the City of Stoughton in 1995 as a part-time receptionist. She then worked for 1 year in the clerk’s office and the next 10 years as the Administrative Assistant. In 2010, she was elected as the city’s mayor. She is very proud to have served the City of Stoughton as mayor until 2018.
Both Randy and Donna are proud to call Stoughton home and have been very active in the community for many years.
Randy coached Tri-County girls’ basketball and served as the Coordinator for the Stoughton teams for 18 years (1989 – 2007). He was a Stoughton Sports Booster Club Board member for seven years and intermittently served as board president for a total of five years. In 2001 and again in 2010, he received the Stoughton Booster Club President’s Award and was inducted into the Stoughton Sports Booster Club Hall of Fame in 2006. He is also an “Honorary S Club” member.
Randy served on the Stoughton Hospital Board for six years and was chairman of the board from 2006 to 2008. He served on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for six years and was board president for three years. He is also a former member of the Stoughton Rotary Club.
Donna is a graduate of the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Stoughton, class of 2004/2005.
She worked with the local band Madison County and Q106 radio station to host the Stoughton Area Tornado Benefit in September 2005. Stoughton area citizens, friends and families raised over $100,000 that day to benefit those that were affected by the tornado. She served with the Stoughton Area Tornado Long Term Recovery Board for the next year to continue helping those affected.
Donna is a founding member of the Friends of the Stoughton Area Youth Center and has served on the board since 2006.
She has been an active member of Stoughton Rotary for many years. Donna received the Stoughton Rotary Club President’s Award for the 2006/2007 year and served as president for the 2007/2008 Rotary year. She has also received a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow Award.
Donna was a member of the Dane County Cities and Villages Association (DCCVA) Executive Committee from 2011 to 2018. Donna received the 2018 DCCVA Outstanding Service Award. She also served on the Wisconsin League of Municipalities Executive Board.
Donna is a member of the Stoughton Sons of Norway Lodge, and in 2011, she and Randy traveled to Norway visiting Gjovik; Stoughton’s sister city. One of the highlights of the tour was experiencing Gjovik’s downtown where there were many parks and greenspaces. After returning to Stoughton, Donna worked with the City of Stoughton and Stoughton Rotary to create Rotary Park – a park/greenspace in downtown Stoughton.
Donna was a member of the inaugural Stoughton Citizen Police Academy and was inducted into the “Honorary S Club” in 2017.
After retiring in April 2018, Donna continues to serve our community as a Trustee for the Mandt Community Center and START (Stoughton Area Resource Team) Community Board. She was appointed to the Stoughton Hospital Board in the fall of 2018 and became a member of the Partners of Stoughton Hospital (POSH) in 2019.
Randy and Donna are very honored and humbled to be chosen as the 2020 Syttende Mai King and Queen. Donna’s dad told her many years ago to “Always leave things a little better than you found them.” Donna and Randy have lived by this message in all that they do.