Amherst Magazine

Roger Grove Olson
Roger Grove Olson

Unfortunately, this is not an error. Many of you saw Roger at Reunion three weeks before his death and he appeared to be in robust good health. In fact, he had changed less in appearance in forty years than anyone only that his blond was not in a crew cut anymore.

Roger's death can serve as a cautionary tale for each of us: "Memento Mori." Roger lived a vigorous life and took better care of himself than most of us do: exercised, ate sensibly, drank little. So let us all live as if it may not last forever, after all. His time at Amherst exhibited the organization and drive that characterized his later life. We also saw a sense of mischief that his children want to hear more about; but there has never been a hint of meanness in Roger. There were four of us who roomed together for three of the four years-Roger Olson, John Ostheimer, Bill Pinkham, and Dan Leonardi: very different but very close. Roger has always been outgoing, everybody's friend, master of the outrageous statement followed by a giggle and the infectious smile that no one could dislike.

In his business career, he showed the same qualities as at Amherst: organized, energetic, compassionate. After his navy career, he took an MBA at Harvard, then entered the food industry. He was brand manager of several Maxwell House Coffee products with General Foods, then progressed through management and executive positions with other companies. He became president of Athens Foods, the world's largest Greek food company. He was admired by his employees as a builder of a team and as a leader who shared his success easily with others. He is remembered as a great mentor for the skills of management and of living. About his total approach to life, his son John likens him to the "Energizer Bunny" and says that you either ran with him or walked somewhere else. He was very active in the Episcopal Church and in other "extracurricular activities." Roger was a lover of the things he did, working and playing, he always took the role of organizer, energizer, team leader-never the egocentric boss.

Roger fell in love with J.R. at Amherst, and they have been married for thirty-eight years. John, Joy, and Sarah are their children.

He died unexpectedly at his home in suburban Cleveland on June 21, apparently of heart complications from bronchitis and pneumonia. He is buried in Nantucket, in the new section of the Prospect Hill Cemetery, near the flagpole. Memorial contributions may be made to the Amherst Alumni Fund. His many friends will miss him.

-Dan Leonard '57

 

Quick Links

Post Your Remembrance

To post a remembrance for an individual, click on "Add Comment."