Donald Ottis Olson March 23, 1936 - February 28, 2013 On Thursday February 28, 2013, the world lost a gentleman and a scholar with the passing of Dr. Donald Ottis Olson, 76. In his final days his family surrounded him and his wife of 53 years, Bonnie, stayed by his side until he slipped away - never letting go of his hand.
Don was born at the Olson family ranch near Grass Range, Montana, on March 23, 1936. He was the youngest of 16 children born to Inga and Ole Olson. He emulated his brothers and followed them into the Air National Guard and then the Air Force. A medical condition led to an early, honourable discharge in 1958. Always athletic, he was awarded a basketball scholarship to Colorado State University. Preferring Montana to Colorado, Don transferred to Montana State University and completed an undergraduate degree in Science with a minor in Education. After teaching middle school for one year he returned to school at Washington State University and became a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
Don immigrated with his wife and young daughter, Susan, to Kamloops, BC in 1966 to begin work at the Kamloops Veterinary Clinic with Dr. Lorne Greenaway. In 1968, Don purchased the clinic and expanded the practice to five locations which he ran with commitment and passion for 18 years. In 1975, he was invited to be a "Practitioner on Sabbatical" to teach and learn at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. He was honoured by the students as "Instructor of the Year." In 1984, he sold the clinics to accept a position with Agriculture Canada from which he retired in 2001. During this period, he completed a Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Medicine. For seventeen years, Don fulfilled his love of horses while serving as the Regulatory Veterinarian at the Hastings Park Racetrack. Throughout his career, he was involved in a variety of service organizations. He served as President of the BC Veterinary Medical Association in 1973 and also as a councillor for several years. Beginning in 1966, Don was a member of the Canadian Veterinary Association and served as the Chairman of the Large Animal Practice Committee in 1970. He was involved with the BC High School Rodeo Association and served as president from 1984-86. In addition, Don was a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Veterinary Association, and the Rotary Club of New Westminster.
He had the kindest heart and a mischievous grin. We will miss both everyday.
Don is survived by his wife Bonnie of New Westminster, BC; his three children- Susan Olson, Squamish BC; Beth Mercer (Collin) Squamish BC; and Kristian Olson (Erica), Holliston Massachusetts; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. A celebration of Don's life will be held at the Mount Zion Lutheran Church (930 Cumberland Street, New Westminster) on Saturday March 9 at 2PM.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to your local SPCA or the charity of your choice.
Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province on March 7, 2013