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Harold Haakon Tollefson, Sr.

1922 - 2014

​We are much saddened by the passing of our father Harold Haakon Tollefson, Sr., on Wednesday, December 10. He was 92 years old. He was the youngest child of immigrant Norwegian parents and was born and raised on a farm in Montana.

When he read a magazine article about the German invasion of Poland, he decided to volunteer for military service in WWII. He served in the last days of the army horse cavalry and was promoted to corporal when an officer observed him riding a horse that was thought to be too wild for anyone to ride. After the cavalry was disbanded, he was transferred into the artillery arm of the army. Among other places, he served in Snata Barbara, where he met his future wife Betty Castro, and in Puerto Rico, where he participated in the shelling of German submarines. He was also an MP in San Juan.

Our father attended Woodbury College (now University) in LA after the war and was the valedictorian for his graduating class. He then returned to Santa Barbara, where he held a number of jobs, including one on Stearns Wharf. He is mentioned in a book about the wharf by the late local historian Walker Tompkins.

He next went to work for Farmers’ Insurance Company, first as an adjustor and then as a supervisor until his retirement. He became known at Farmers’ Insurance Company as the agent who settled their case for the automobile accident death of the actor James Dean in 1955.

He loved to take walks and enjoyed the outdoors until near the end. Among other adventures, he hiked up to the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park in Montana, did river rafting on the rapids of the Mackenzie River, and traveled to the Yukon and up into the Arctic Circle.

He was a great father and friend. He epitomized the greatest generation’s emphasis on duty and love for family and country. We will miss him dearly, but he left us many fond memories. He is survived by his daughter Margaret, son Harold, Jr., stepdaughter Martha, and stepdaughter Louise. A private ceremony honoring him was held Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapel and Crematorium.

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