Harry James Olcott


Harry James Olcott


Harry Olcott
Harry Olcott

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.

To Harry

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,


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0 thoughts on “Harry James Olcott”

  1. Dear Jay and Family,
    We are so saddened to hear about the passing of Harry. I am at work crying over what your mother wrote. That is so beautiful, and I am so glad she was able to spend 40 wonderful years with someone that was so good to her and all the kids. I am also so glad that you were able to be home for the reunion just a few weeks ago and spend time with Harry, your friends and family. I am sure that meant a lot to him. All of our thoughts are with you. Love you lots my friend,
    By the way, obviously she gets her writing skills from you 😉

    Stacey Reiter

  2. My family and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Mr. Olcott. The entire Olcott family is in our hearts and prayers. Bill Crowley

  3. Our paths crosssed a number of times over the years and Harry was a real gentleman. It is a privilege to have known him and he was a man who truly led a full rich life and a man well worth knowing.

  4. To Andrew and Lou. We are so sorry for your loss at this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time.
    Jeff and Pam Bromley

  5. Troy, Katie, Gavin, Reid and Nate Kiger and Bob and Constance Beaver

    We learned with great sadness of Harry’s passing. We so enjoyed getting to know him. We were the recipients of Harry’s and Ginny’s generosity as they shared their home and hospitality. It only took moments to feel as though we were old friends. Harry seemed to know immediately which landmarks we would most enjoy on our trip through Montana and which activities would entertain all three generations of our family. His wonderful storytelling and warmth of spirit will long be remembered.

  6. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this very difficult time for all of you. Many fond memories of the Olcott family from “back in the day” will always be with us.
    Veva Lee Spencer and family
    Red Lodge

  7. Patty Hunter Klumpp

    Dear Ginny, Ruth, and Family,

    I was saddened to read of Harry’s passing. What a fine legacy he leaves in his family and through his many good works. Anthony, your mother and mine were very good friends, and you and I played together as small children in Red Lodge.

    Please know my thoughts are with you all.

    Patty Hunter Klumpp

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