Honoring One of Our Own: Robert "Bob" Olson
By Senior Airman Xavier Navarro, 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 29, 2015
GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
A memorial plaque and "buddy bench" was dedicated to Robert "Bob" Olson at Nathan F. Twining Elementary and Middle School on May 18, 2015. Olson was a teacher, a coach and a family man, he passed away on Oct. 15, 2014 at the age of 69 while battling prostate cancer.
Held in the "Home of the Thunderbirds" gymnasium the ceremony was filled with students, staff and family members of Mr. Olson to honor his devotion for teaching sixth grade students for more than 40 years.
A photo slide show of Mr. Olson's life was shown followed by a speech, a music performance by staff members and a presentation by Maj. Matthew Suhre, 319th Air Base Wing Military School Liaison Officer.
"Although I did not have the privilege of knowing Mr. Olson, I can fully appreciate the impact that he had on countless students' lives," said Suhre. "All teachers are vitally important to the education of children; it takes someone special to teach in a school that has military children."
Maj. Suhre handed the family a shield representing the Warriors of the North for Mr. Olson's hard work and dedication.
The Olson family was presented a memorial plaque of Mr. Olson that will be displayed on the playground along with the buddy benches that symbolize a student in need of a friend to talk or play with. The displays also help to facilitate friendships and combat school bullying.
Amongst the crowd Maddysen Hall, a prior student of Mr. Olson, shared her memories about him.
"He was the nicest sixth grade teacher I remember having and once in a while I would come back to Twining to visit him," said Hall. "I remember whenever we would leave for the day, he would ask 'you can leave or stay for a few minutes to learn something about life, stories or advice.'"
Not only did Mr. Olson teach at school, he coached football and track.
Jacob Gilmore, prior sixth grader athlete, mentioned of what he learned from him. "He told me to do everything I want to do in life and don't let anyone control you."
Mr. Olson was a prior enlisted service member of the United States Army Reserves. After his enlistment he pursued to focus on teaching where he attended University of North Dakota (UND) for four years and received his Bachelors of Science in Education.
His wife, Jennifer "Jenni" Olson, remembered the reasons why he only taught at Twinning.
"He appreciated the dedication of the people who are here on base because they made a commitment and he respected that," said Mrs. Olson. "I think he felt he could do his part to offer some continuity and support."