Sherm and Wanda Olsrud

Wanda and Sherm Olsrud. Olsrud, the founder and namesake of Sherm’s Thunderbird Market, died this past week at age 95.

Sherm Olsrud, the founder and namesake of Sherm’s Thunderbird Market is being remembered for his legacy of giving and community involvement. Olsrud passed away last Tuesday at the age of 95.

Steve Olsrud, Sherm Olsrud’s son, wrote a tribute on the company’s website about his father.

“Sherm loved living and working in the Rogue Valley and was proud to be a part of the Southern Oregon Community,” he wrote. “Thank you so much for your love, support, thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. He will be greatly missed.”

Steve Olsrud was named president of the family’s business after Sherm Olsrud retired about 10 years ago.

Bob Ames, the general manager for Sherm’s Thunderbird Market in Roseburg, said Sherm Olsrud will be remembered for his support for youth programs.

“He’s always been highly involved in pretty much anything to do with youth, as far as supporting the schools in different needs, 4-H, the sports programs,” Ames said. “He always loved to see people in youth with ideas and trying things. He just loved to see the kids learn and people who made efforts.”

In Douglas County this year, the company donated to the YMCA of Douglas County, Music on the Half Shell, CASA of Douglas County, United Community Action Network, Wildlife Safari, Safe Haven Maternity Home, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Umpqua Valley, and the Douglas County Museum of History and Natural History, along with regularly buying animals from 4-H youth at the fairs.

“He always had a giving heart,” Ames said. “He was genuinely a generous person. He really didn’t spend and he never wanted to focus on himself, so they built quite the legacy. They have the Olsrud Family Foundation that will give to the community forever.”

Sherm Olsrud started the grocery business with his wife, Wanda Olsrud, in 1957 when they opened the first 24-hour market in Eugene and expanded to a full-sized grocery store, according to the company website. In 1967, they started Sherm’s Thunderbird Market in Medford. They bought the six-year old grocery store for “real cheap,” but didn’t have money to change the existing sign, so they simply added “Sherm’s” to it.

They purchased Food World in Roseburg in April 2000, which became the newest Sherm’s Thunderbird Market.

“One of Sherm’s biggest things was being grateful for the employees and what the employees have done for us,” Ames said. “All the Roseburg staff there has just been outstanding and I know he really has a lot of value for us and for the community.”

The company employs about 630 people and close to 180 in the Roseburg store.

“Sherm was a very sharp businessman,” Ames said. “He really knew and understood a good value when he saw one.”

Steve Olsrud said in the post that a private memorial service and burial is planned for the family, but a public celebration of life open to employees, vendors and members of the general public is being planned.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that people donate to their favorite local charities in the region of each store. For the Roseburg store, the family suggested Douglas County 4-H and the United Community Action network.

News-Review reporter Janelle Polcyn can be reached at or 541-957-4204. Or follow her on Twitter @JanellePolcyn.

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Janelle Polcyn is a reporter at The News-Review, graduated from the University of Texas, and is a podcast enthusiast.

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