Harry James Olcott was born on April 27, 1929, in Red Lodge and passed away on August 10, 2015. He was the third child of Harry Charles and Esther Montana (Sicora) Olcott. With sisters Lael and Ruth and cousin Jeanne Heatherly, who joined the family after the death of her parents, Harry enjoyed the pleasures of an active Montana life. In 1946 he graduated as valedictorian from Carbon County High School and subsequently went on to earn his BA from the University of Chicago at age 19. While there, he met and married Alison Sylvia Ball, an Englishwoman who had come to Chicago to study social work after graduation from Oxford University and the London School of Economics. As he began his graduate studies at the U. of C. School of Business, Harry learned that his father had suffered a heart attack, and the newlyweds returned to Red Lodge and raised their family of four children. Harry took over the family farm machinery business, Olcott Implement Co.
An able businessman, Harry expanded the company and with partners formed Carbon Implement, Inc., which took over the International Harvester dealerships in Bridger, Columbus, and eventually Billings (in 1965). An early adopter of computerized accounting, Harry began data processing in his business as early as 1960. By 1968, he had joined with an electronic data processing firm to develop computerized accounting, inventory, and ordering systems.
During these years, he and Alison “Sammy” moved to Billings with their family. Sammy succumbed to breast cancer in 1971.
Later that year he was introduced to Virginia ‘Ginny’ Beller, a single mother with three children. In 1975 they married and enjoyed the adventures of blending two families and watching them grow into successful adults.
Harry continued his exploration of the business applications of data processing, and in 1979 formed a partnership with Computers Unlimited to develop an online interactive accounting and management system. In 1981, International Harverster selected Harry’s dealership as the first in the nation to test their systems for in-house processing. In 1984, Harry bought out his former partners and formed Olcott International, where he continued integrating IBM hardware and DIS software into dealership. In 1988, he sold his business to Tractor and Equipment Co., which hired him to integrate his data processing system with that of the Caterpillar Corporation.
After retirement from the farm implement business, Harry became involved with real estate, including commercial development near the west interchange of I-90 and vacation cabin lots near Luther. He worked as a consulting contractor to Price Waterhouse Coopers and IBM.
While in Red Lodge, Harry was a member of the Rod and Gun Club, the Inquiry Club, the Congregational Church, and the Elks, where he served as Exalted Ruler at the age of 23. In Billings, he was a member of the Rotary Club and served on the Board of Directors of Yellowstone Country Club and Red Lodge Mountain Resort. He was also a member of the City-County Planning Board and the Board of the Yellowstone Club Estates Owners Association.
He loved bridge, gin rummy, backgammon, and dominos. He hunted, fished, camped, skied and hiked, as well as conducting a lifelong struggle with the game of golf.
Survivors include: wife Virginia Olcott; sister Ruth Owens; children Anthony (Martha) Olcott; Teresa Olcott Cohea; Andrew (Lou) Olcott; Nicholas (Tim Westmoreland) Olcott; Janna (Randy) Hafer; Jay Beller; Scott (Margie) Beller; eighteen grandchildren; and fifteen great-grandchildren.
Memorial services will be 11am Saturday at First United Methodist Church.
What can I say to you that I haven’t said before – like how much I love you – your laugh, your smile, your sense of humor, your blue eyes, the feel of your big hand when it took mine – like how much I have enjoyed living with you in our house, – like how much I have admired your honesty and fairness, your thoughtful advice, your taking care of our business matters – your taking care of me and our family.
With heartfelt thanks for 40 wonderful years together,