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Paynesville Press - October 3, 2001

Town loses "Where the Heart Is" composer

Ramona Olsen Ramona Olsen, author and composer of "Where the Heart Is," died Friday, Sept. 28, at the Paynesville Area Health Care System. Olsen, 74, wrote the musical to celebrate the town's 125th anniversary in 1983.

A Paynesille native, Olsen was best known for her musical talent. She started piano lessons at the age of five, and by the age of 12, she was studying music at the McPhail School of Music. She later studied music at Hamline University in St. Paul.

Olsen performed numerous recitals and concerts and played for weddings and at church services.

She started composing music in 1965. Her first major piece that was publicly performed was "The Song of God" at Grace United Methodist Church. In 1982, she wrote "Celebration of Christmas," an original score performed with six choirs at the church.

In 1983, she wrote and produced the historic musical, "Where the Heart Is," for the town's 125th anniversary. The musical consisted of 29 original songs, had 60 cast members and used a 60-member choir.

The musical anthology traced Paynesville's history from the days of the Indian wars. Nearly 2,000 people attended the three performances.

"It was Paynesville's residents who found the love and courage to stick together, making it a community 'where the heart is,'" said Olsen said in a Press interview about her musical.

Olsen was presented a Gold Key to the City following the performance.

Olsen's final performance was in August 2001 for the wedding of Tiffany (Karsch) Tangen, one of the youngest performers in the cast of "Where the Heart Is" and the granddaughter of Olsen's closest friend and another play participant, the late Marge Morelan.

Olsen is survived by her husband, Dr. Robert Olsen, and two sons: Ron and Jay.

(Her complete obituary appears in our online obituaries.)

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