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Sherm Olsrud, founder of Sherm's Markets, passes away at 95

Sherm and his wife Wanda have been pillars of the Rogue Valley community for decades.

Posted: May 15, 2019 5:22 PM
Updated: May 16, 2019 10:39 AM

MEDFORD, Ore. — After many years as a leader of the local community, Sherm Olsrud has died at the age of 95. Sources at Sherm's Markets confirmed that Olsrud passed away on Tuesday, surrounded by family.

After growing up in North Dakota, Sherm served as a Marine during WWII, fighting in the South Pacific. He later settled in Oregon, where he met his future wife Wanda. They married in 1947.

Beginning first in Eugene, Sherm and Wanda worked together to buy and operate a series of markets — eventually taking over the Thunderbird Market in Medford in 1967. The couple said later that they kept the Thunderbird name because they couldn't afford to replace the sign.

From there, the couple's business gradually expanded, acquiring several other store locations, including a Food 4 Less franchise on Biddle Road.

Both Sherm and Wanda were always active in the Southern Oregon community and became known for their charitable giving. Recently the revamped Bear Creek playground came to bear their name in honor of how much they had given back to the community over the years.

The Olsruds have made a tradition of delivering an extremely generous amount of food every year to ACCESS in order to supply the food-insecure, donating 23,000 pounds of food in December.

Almost immediately after news of his death broke, voices in the Southern Oregon community responded with condolences and memories of the man who made such an indelible impact.

"Our entire community will grieve the loss of this great man and also share in the joys of having him be such an important part of our community. Thank you for your amazing spirit, generosity and leadership! Blessings to your family and all your employees," said a statement from the United Way of Jackson County.

"Your commitment to children will be a lasting testament to all that follow. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Oslrud family and everyone that was touched by Sherm's smile and laughter," said the Rogue Valley Family YMCA.

"So hard to capture all this man has done for this community. Truly a Saint among us. He was so humble, so down to earth, so willing to help his fellow mankind and citizens of this community," said Tammi Pitzen with the Children's Advocacy Center of Jackson County. "I met him when I first came to this community almost six years ago and no matter where I saw him, he was the same smiling Sherm Oslrud ready to pitch in and make a difference any way he could . . . and make a difference he did! The Valley will never be the same."

The Children's Advocacy Center also released an official statement on Sherm's passing:

"He has supported those who are hungry in our community. He has supported children who have been abused. He has supported what seems like limitless the children in our community. When trying to thank him or recognize him for these generous acts of quiet philanthropy, he would generally deflect the gratitude to the community who gave so much support to his family. He would say that the children are our future. He would say that is part of being a good citizen . . . to give back to the community who gives so much to his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ms. Olsrud, his children and his grandchildren."

"We extend our support and sympathy for the family, coworkers, friends and everyone whose lives have been touched by this great man," ACCESS said in a statement on Thursday. "On behalf of the ACCESS board of directors, team and volunteers, we would not be able to do all we do without Sherm Olsrud."

This is a developing story, and NewsWatch 12 will be updating this article with more details as they emerge. Sherm and Wanda's son Steve Olsrud released a brief statement on Wednesday afternoon that can be read below.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 5061240

Reported Deaths: 74159
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152548627128
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581504
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus912991413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058629
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
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