By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Before settling on a farm in Howard Lake at the age of 38, Osborne “Ozzie” Arlien had accomplished many things, but one would never hear him brag about them.
Instead, he put his talent and expertise to work, serving the people of Wright County.
Successful at an early age
Born in North Dakota, Arlien attended high school in Rugby, graduating as valedictorian, followed by the University of North Dakota, where he received a degree in agricultural economics.
Arlien became the first National FFA officer from North Dakota, serving as vice president in 1947.
Not only did Arlien attend college, but he served his country in the Army during World War II, taking part in atomic testing, and was also recalled during the Korean conflict.
He continued his military career in the North Dakota National Guard and the Minnesota National Guard, retiring at the rank of major.
Another title Arlien held during his lifetime was that of educator, teaching agriculture classes in North Dakota at Elgin and Rolla.
Before starting his own company, Arlien was a salesman and general manager for Farm Bureau Service Company.
As an entrepreneur, Arlien started his own agricultural chemical company, building plants in Dassel, Winthrop, and Truman, MN.
He was an executive at several plant food companies before settling on a farm in Howard Lake, where he began raising Angus cattle.
Service to Wright County
Arlien served Wright County in many capacities after he settled there with his family.
“In all the years that he served, no matter what capacity, the people got more than their money’s worth,” said Dick Norman, current Wright County coordinator.
He explained that Arlien was a professional, whose efficient manner led to better ways of doing things in the county.
“He was a true professional and a no-nonsense guy,” Norman added. “I think a lot of it came from his military background.”
Before becoming the executive secretary to the county board (now known as county coordinator), Arlien worked in the auditor’s office, according to Norman.
In 1982, Arlien was elected to the position of auditor, receiving the additional title of treasurer when those positions were combined a few years later.
Norman was hired to replace Arlien when he was elected auditor, and the two worked closely together on many projects, specifically the budget.
“He helped me a lot, because he was very knowledgeable about the budget,” Norman said.
Throughout his career at the county, Arlien was involved in many of the initiatives which took place, including the courthouse expansion, telecommunications upgrades, and infrastructure initiatives.
He was the auditor/treasurer when the county had its first bond issuance, as well, Norman said.
After retiring from the auditor/treasurer position in 1990, Arlien was elected as a commissioner, serving for two years.
He approached Dick Mattson halfway through his term to take his place.
“You always knew where Ozzie was coming from a man of few words and to the point,” Mattson said about Arlien.
Mattson did not have a chance to get to know Arlien as well as he would have liked, but appreciated his straight-forward, no-nonsense manner.
“Ozzie was always a straight shooter, and a great person to visit with,” Mattson said. “I really enjoyed the words of wisdom from Ozzie.”
Of all the accomplishments Arlien made throughout his life, he was proudest of his FFA career, his military experience, his company, and his time serving Wright County, said his daughter-in-law, Louise Arlien.
“As a family man, he was very private, but very proud of his grandchildren. He had many talents, and did all of them very well,” Louise added.