Posted on July 27, 2017 by Tia Lalani

Augustana remembers professor Orlando Olson who passed away the afternoon of July 25, 2017.

Augustana remembers professor Orlando Olson who passed away the afternoon of July 25, 2017. Professor Olson taught physics and mathematics from 1964 to 1998 and was also the builder of one of Augustana’s most famous landmarks, “Ollie’s Crossing” (also referred to as “Ole’s Cross”), a bridge that connected the ravine residences to the rest of campus for over 30 years before being replaced in 2009.

Built completely by hand in just over a month, the wooden bridge stood as a testament to Olson’s dedication and passionate spirit in his work and for his campus. Olson fondly recollected, “It’s a romantic thing to build a bridge,” and succeeded with the support of the Augustana community, never having to ask for volunteers but always having readily available helping hands. Olson has left a legacy at Augustana as a sublime engineer, building support not only in the infrastructure but also in the numerous students and colleagues he inspired.

Professor Olson suffered from Alzheimer’s over the past two years and passed away at the Rosehaven Care Center in Camrose, Alberta. He will be remembered fondly, and greatly missed.

If you’d like to leave condolences, comment here and we will pass your words on to the family. The funeral will be held at Messiah Lutheran Church, 50 Street & 48 Avenue, Camrose on August 3, 2017 at 3:00 pm. Memorial donations can be made to U of A Augustana Chaplaincy or the John Howard Society.

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13 responses to In Memoriam – Professor Orlando Olson

  • Jane Cherry-Lemire said:
    Aug 4, 2017 at 9:34 AM

    My deepest sympathies to Ole’s family and friends. I was unable to attend the funeral and I have a card for his family but am not sure where to drop it off. Can anyone please let me know? Thank you.

    • Tia Lalani said:
      Aug 4, 2017 at 9:47 AM

      Hi, Jane. You can drop the card off at the church that held his service yesterday, Messiah Lutheran, on 50th street and 48th avenue. They’re open until noon today (Friday). Thank you.

  • Andrew Olson said:
    Jul 31, 2017 at 8:51 PM

    Thank you to all the kind people who shared their memories of Dad and his long life and contributions here. I had a special life at Augustana, riding my tricycle on the campus sidewalks at age 3, and helping Dad bolt the last few handrails onto the bridge the night before freshmen day at age 11. Finally attending and (finally!) graduating myself at age 27 and meeting many wonderful people and learning many wonderful things along the way, and sharing all those experiences with my Dad.

  • Laurie Grahn said:
    Jul 30, 2017 at 7:45 PM

    I had the experience attending a couple of Dr. Olson’s math classes in the mid-70’s at CLC and then again when I returned to complete a BSc at Augustana in the late 1980’s. He was a refreshing individual and ever so patient with his students. I remember him fondly.

  • Agnes (Moen) Millang said:
    Jul 29, 2017 at 7:27 PM

    Orlando Olson was my cousin. He was a very interesting , compassionate person. We enjoyed having many intelligent .conversations with him. He was a master at inventing and constructing anything.

  • Paul Horst said:
    Jul 28, 2017 at 6:54 PM

    It was a privilege for me to work with and learn from Dr. Olson. He taught math more clearly than almost anyone I have encountered. So patient. He inspired confidence in those he worked with. I fondly remember him walking between Old Main and the classroom building on -40 degree mornings with no coat only a short sleeved shirt. For me, he was a foundational part of CLC and Augustana.

  • Paul Muhlbach said:
    Jul 28, 2017 at 12:24 PM

    Dr. Olson was a major inspiration for me to pursue a career in computing sciences in the mid 1980’s. His thirst for knowledge and new skills, coupled with his ability to implement his ideas was very remarkable.
    He will be missed.

  • Reina Lopez said:
    Jul 27, 2017 at 8:31 PM

    I had the pleasure of knowing professor Olson on the years I worked at Augustana as a janitor and always felt appreciated by his kindness and humanity, he was always smiling the students he had under his tutoring he was an excellent professor and will be missed by all of us that had the oportunity to know him.

  • Tif said:
    Jul 27, 2017 at 7:51 PM

    So sorry to hear this news. Ole was one of those people who helped the Augustana community feel real. And I never even had a class with him! Deep peace to his family and all who grieve.

  • MIKE KLUG said:
    Jul 27, 2017 at 6:01 PM

    My condolences to Professor Olson’s family at this time of sorrow. He was the friendliest person i met always had a smile when he greeted ya….. RIP PROFESSOR OLSON

  • Tim Goos said:
    Jul 27, 2017 at 4:20 PM

    If there was a turning point where I chose physics and math to study, it was because of this prof. He was human. He challenged us.

    He gave us rope to learn … or hang. It was 1971 and he was letting me program this humble, humble computer in the lab. I couldn’t believe it.

    And, from that, I made a career and a work life.

    Thanks, Orlando.

  • Tim said:
    Jul 27, 2017 at 4:14 PM

    Professor Olson was literally the first professor I came into contact with at CLC in 1986. He immediately struck me as brilliant, funny and full of life. One of the first things I learned about the campus was about how he built that bridge, and I have to say I was always aware of that physical legacy he left behind on campus. I was disappointed to hear that it had been replaced (I understand why, but it was kind of sad to hear) but the mark he left on his students is indelible.

  • Leslie said:
    Jul 27, 2017 at 3:38 PM

    What a great man who never stopped exploring! I recall his participation in the Augustana In Cuba program where he and his partner were learning to play the recorder – a first foray into music for both of them. What great fortune we had his influence so deeply expressed on our campus.