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Richard Olson - July 19, 2012


Richard Edward Olson, 79, of Topeka, Kan., died July 19, 2012, at Porter Hospice in Denver, Colo., after a two year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Dick was born Dec. 26, 1932, in Kearney, the oldest son of Emerald and Clara Olson.
He grew up on a farm near Axtell.
He was co-valedictorian of his 1951 graduating class at Axtell High School. While in high school, he was quarterback of the six-man football team that won 30 straight games and was the top ranked team in Nebraska’s Class D division in 1950.
He graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1955 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science.
He played outfield on the Nebraska varsity baseball team while in college. During college, he joined the Air Force ROTC. After graduation, he reported for active duty in January 1956. He was stationed in Salina, Kan., and served stints in Goose Bay, Labrador and Thule, Greenland. He attained the rank of captain and was an aircraft commanding officer with the Strategic Air Command during his time on active duty.
While a member of the Air Force Reserves, he attended graduate school at the University of Nebraska. He earned his master’s degree in agricultural economics in 1961 and doctorate in economics in 1965.
He was a professor of economics at Wichita State University from 1964 to 1968 and at the University of Alabama from 1968 to 1980. While teaching, he resumed his studies, receiving a law degree from the University of Alabama in 1978. He joined the faculty at Washburn University in 1980, serving as a professor and administrator in the business school until his retirement in 2001. He authored numerous articles on economics and transportation, but his true passion was teaching.
Dick and his family lived in Topeka for 32 years. In addition to teaching at Washburn, he enjoyed playing the baritone horn in the Santa Fe Band of Topeka and he was an active member of Our Saviors Lutheran Church.
He married Nancy Louise Norling on April 5, 1958. They were married for 47 years until her death in 2005.
He is survived by his children, Robert and wife, Sheryl, and grandsons Matthew and Michael of Denver, Colo.; Julia and husband, Philip Dascombe, and grandsons Peter and Alex of Falmouth, Mass.; and David and wife, Laura, and granddaughter Helen of Durham, N.C.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4 at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Topeka.
A burial ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 6 at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Axtell.
Memorial contributions may be made to Washburn University Foundation, 1729 SW MacVicar Avenue, Topeka, KS 66604, or to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 2021 SW 29th Street, Topeka, KS 66611.