Dr. Olaf G. Malmin

November 26, 1939 – February 22, 2021

Dr. Olaf G. Malmin died on February 22, 2021 at the age of 81 years in St. Paul, MN.  He was born on November 26, 1939 in Washington state to Gunnar and Dorothy Malmin. He attended public schools in Parkland, a suburb of Tacoma, home of Pacific Lutheran University, where his father was choral director for over thirty years and his mother was a devoted church musician and published arranger of children’s choral music.

During his early years, Olaf was an aspiring young violinist who was regularly featured in his father’s university choral performances, and many other various musical programs throughout the greater Tacoma region.  It was during his middle school years that the family briefly relocated to Norway in order for his father to accept a teaching fellowship.  Olaf returned to Oslo, Norway in 1957-58, following his high school graduation, to study at the prestigious Frogner Gymnasium Preparatory Academy earning an advanced academic certificate.

Returning to the United States, he went on to receive a Bachelor of Music degree from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA in 1962; a Master of Arts degree in choral conducting and literature from the University of Iowa in 1964, and a Ph.D in choral conducting and literature from the University of Iowa in 1973.  His thesis title was “A Survey of the Choral Music of Twentieth Century Swedish Composers”.

His first teaching position was served at Clarion State College in Clarion, PA (1965-66), followed by four years at Buffalo State University College, Buffalo, NY (1966-70), and his most notable appointment was as the Director of the Augustana Choir at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD (1970-1992).

During his twenty-two years at Augustana, he brought a visionary, passionate, and exuberant enthusiasm to the podium, where he was most remembered for the joy of his teaching, the artistic expression in his conducting, his carefully programmed concert performances, his example of living out his Christian faith, and offering personal support and encouragement to his students.  During his tenure, The Augustana Choir was selected to appear on several ACDA North Central conference programs, and annually toured throughout all regions of the United States, along with embarking on a major European performance tour.

Throughout his career he appeared in various performing roles as a vocal recitalist, pianist, and violinist.   He has appeared in “Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities” and was a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, National Honorary Music Fraternity.

Following his relocation to the Twin Cities in 1993, he coordinated and conducted church choir programs at St. Peder’s Lutheran Church in south Minneapolis, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in St. Paul, and most recently at Grace Lutheran Church in east St. Paul.  In addition, he joined the professional staff at Groth Music in Bloomington and served until 2010 as a music associate who assisted hundreds of music teachers each year as they planned their choral performances and music recitals.  It was during these years that he composed several seasonal church choir anthems published by Sacred Music Press, Laurel Press, and Art Masters Studios, Inc.

Olaf is survived by his son Christian Malmin; his wife Cindy Malmin of 13 years, and her children Isaac (Sarah) Sanford Monson, Aaron (Jennifer) Monson, Ruth (Sam) Burns, and grandchildren Ellery, Lyra, Olivia, Nora, and Rion.  Brothers David (Marjean) Ross; Jon (Jean) Malmin, and sister Anne (John) Berg; along with many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, and wife Lisa Schillke Malmin (m. 1967-73).

Due to Covid 19 mitigation protocols, a private family service was held at Calvary Lutheran Church in south Minneapolis on February 28, 2021.  During the service these words were offered in his memory:  As some people journey through life, they leave footprints wherever they go…footprints of kindness and love, courage and compassion, humor and inspiration, joy and faith.   Even when they leave us, we can still look back and clearly see the trail they left behind…a trail bright with hope that invites us to follow along and sing their song.

We remember Dr. Olaf G. Malmin who graced this earth with his presence for 81 years, 2 months, and 28 days…as a loving husband, father, brother, teacher, and friend.  His life and legacy as a choral director extraordinare can be summed up in his own words…”It’s a fine thing!”

Link to the February 28, 2021 memorial service video on YouTube:


Memorials may be designated to the F. Melius Christiansen Endowment Scholarship Fund, c/o ACDA of Minnesota, 13288 Downey Trail, Apple Valley, MN  55124.