I received word today that a gentleman from Tredyffrin who was a much loved Supervisor for many years has passed away. If you read his obituary which I will post, it shows what we are losing in today’s hyper-partisan times. Where are our community leaders today? People that quietly serve to forward the greater good?
In 2011 a reader editorial was written and published in then Main Line Suburban Life by then Chair of the Tredyffrin Supervisors Bob Lamina. I actually remembered this and went looking for it today. I am going to quote liberally:
Thomas Jefferson once said, “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” For the better part of 13 years, I’ve had the great pleasure of serving with my friend and colleague Paul Olson on the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors. During that time, Paul has dedicated himself in his public pursuits to ensuring our local government is watchful of tax dollars, preventing wasteful taxpayer-funded expenditures for more government services that his constituents haven’t asked for, or that didn’t support public safety or promote the general welfare of our community…..During our budget deliberations, while many first seek mechanisms to raise revenues to fund additional township services, we can always count on Paul to act like taxpayers do at home: asking where we might first trim expenses.
Paul is also a small-business owner and knows firsthand what it takes to promote economic growth and development and, if we’re not careful, how local government can impede it. He knows from experience the importance of fiscal responsibility and what it takes to make a payroll…..Paul has also been an active volunteer in our community in many ways other than in his elected capacity. A resident since 1968, Paul was president of the Devon-Strafford Little League for five years and also coached the Strafford Eagles youth-football program, now the Conestoga Generals, for seven years. He serves on the Board of Directors of Surrey Services for Seniors, and was co-chair for the wildly successful capital campaign for Tredyffrin Township’s main library in Strafford, raising over $4.8 million in a private-public partnership in the truest sense of the term.
In the spirit of volunteerism that sets him apart from equally well-meaning citizens, Paul was recently honored by the Chester County commissioners for his 400th donation of blood and blood platelets to the American Red Cross, making him the region’s top donor. I asked Paul recently why he’s been dedicated to donating blood platelets for so long. He hesitated, and then told me that he had a very good friend who died some years ago who required this form of blood transfusion. He has committed himself to donate his time, and his blood, to help others who could literally have their lives touched unknowingly by Paul’s unselfish acts of kindness.
A public servant is best defined as one who is a team player who works to achieve goals through compromise and mutual respect. Our public servants are also typically resourceful since often funding is limited and in today’s reality perhaps not available at all. But above all, the best characteristic of a public servant is that of being selfless; that is, placing the needs of others before themselves. Thomas Jefferson also said, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” Paul Olson is the embodiment of a true public servant who has given much more than he has ever received from our community.~ By Bob Lamina
Paul Olson was a true public servant. I never knew him personally, never even met him, but he always put community before self. He put community before political parties.
He was by all accounts, a consistent champion of the Mt. Pleasant section of Tredyffrin in the panhandle. This historic black community is too often overlooked and he helped with things like the Carr School/Mt. Pleasant Chapel, Main Line Mentoring, and getting a park named for Mazie B. Hall. Also active with the Red Cross, Surrey Services for Seniors, and so much more including but not limited to the huge capital campaign back a bunch of years for the Tredyffrin Library.
Paul Olson served as a Supervisor in Tredyffrin Township beginning in 1976 until 2019. FORTY THREE YEARS. That is amazing. That is awe-inspiring. I know I could never do something like that. Rest in peace, Mr. Olson.
Here is his obituary from the Alleva Funeral Home Website:
Paul Wendell Olson
DECEMBER 6, 1931 – SEPTEMBER 10, 2021
Paul Olson was a husband, father, brother, friend, and mentor. He was a community volunteer and leader who served on the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors for more than 40 years. He passed away on Friday September 10, 2021. He was 89 years old.
He loved basketball, which he played through his early 60s, including at the Senior Olympics in Salt Lake City. He loved all kinds of candy, which often filled his pockets and always his briefcase and office drawers. And he loved his wife, Andrea, a high school Fiesta Queen and college salutatorian at Iowa State University, whom he married on September 17, 1960, and with whom he raised three children.
He was a small town Minnesota boy, born and raised in Dawson, a close knit rural community in the southwestern corner of the state, the second son of Clarence Eugene Olson and Ouida Rue Olson. He took lifelong pride in his first job, sweeping floors at Hovland Drug Store as a pre-teen, and in his role on the 1948 Dawson High School basketball team that went to the state tournament. He talked fondly of his graduating class of 18 boys and 18 girls and stayed in touch with many of them throughout his life.
He attended Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota, where he studied business administration and history and started at center on the football team. He served active duty in the Counterintelligence Corps of the Army in Fort Hood, Texas, during the Korean War. He made a career in sales and marketing and managed and then owned several small firms in the laboratory testing business. His career took him through Minneapolis, Kansas City, Peoria, and New York, before landing him and his family of five in Devon in 1969.
He made his most lasting impact in life, though, as a family man and as a community volunteer and leader. In addition to his service on the Tredyffrin Township Board, he was active as a member of his church, St. Luke Lutheran in Devon, and in youth sports. He coached for the Strafford Eagles, the Paoli Wildcats, Teegarden summer basketball, and the Devon Strafford Little League, where he also served as President for a number of years in the late 1970s. He served on the board of directors for both Red Cross of Philadelphia, through whom he donated blood on more than 600 occasions, and for Surrey Services for Seniors.
Paul believed that community service, in addition to improving the community, could enrich the lives of those serving and had the power to connect people of different backgrounds and experiences. He would often encourage friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to participate in community life. He was not an enemies person, and there was not a person he served with, worshipped with, or coached who he would not greet with a warm smile and, more often than not, a firm handshake or a hug. Among Paul’s proudest achievements in township government were saving the Strafford Library, establishing Mazie Hall Park in Mount Pleasant, and helping to secure a triple-A rating on the Township’s bonds.
He is survived by his ever loving wife Andrea; his children Mike (Marilyn) of San Diego, Dave (Judi) of San Mateo, and Kris (Bob) of Paoli; five grandchildren Carly, Miles, Michael, Hunter, Jack, Sam, and Maddie; and his brother Don (Barbara).
Services will be held on Saturday, September 25th, at 11AM at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Devon, located on 203 North Valley Forge Road. The family requests that those wishing to express sympathy consider making donations to the American Red Cross.~ Alleva Funeral Home