Glenn Leroy Ohrlin was born October 26, 1926 in Minneapolis, MN the only child of Bert and Alma Eraker Ohrlin. He was baptized and confirmed at the Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. He spent his childhood summers at his grandparent's farm in northern Minnesota, where he developed his love of horses and of cowboy music. When he was 14, the family moved to California. Two years later he left home to become a working cowboy. His first entry into Professional riding was bronc riding at the Roy Rogers Rodeo, held at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1944. He served in the US Army during WWII, and was on a boat to Japan when the War ended. He served in the Army of the Occupation and was honorably discharged in 1946. After his return to the US, he worked on ranches in the West. He continued rodeoing until he saved up enough money to buy his ranch in Mountain View in the early 1950s, where he hand-built his home from local stone.
After several serious injuries in the rodeo, Glenn set out on a career of singing cowboy songs and doing cowboy poetry. He performed at numerous folk festivals over the years, including Newport, Elko, Sun Valley, Winnipeg and many others across North America. He was also a frequent entertainer at the Mountain View Folk Center.
After years of cowboy work and collecting songs, stories, and poetry, Glenn's book, The Hell Bound Train, was published in 1973. He also produced an album of the same name in 1965. Other records and CDs would follow. In 1985, he was named National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment of the Arts. One of the high points in Glenn's career was performing (twice) on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion.
Glenn is survived by his Aunt, Irene Solie and Uncle, Raymond Eraker, and numerous cousins. He is also survived by an enormous cadre of cowboy poets, singers, song writers and performers from across the United States.
Glenn was preceded in death by his parents, his uncles and aunts Helmer (Gertie) Eraker, Arnold (LaVerne) Eraker, Clarence (Andrea) Eraker, Ervin (Ruth) Eraker, Leonard (Hilde) Eraker, Arthur Eraker, Henry Solie, Betty Eraker, and Anna (Carl) Molinder, cousins Thomas Solie, Diane Vitko, and Michael Eraker.
A memorial service will be held at the Folklore Society Center on Monday, February 16th at 10 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Mountain View Folklore Society, the Mountain View Folk Center, or a worthy Organization of your choice. We should all hope to be like Glenn, a man who truly followed his dreams.