L.O. (Buck) Olsen

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By George Walker, on the occasion of the presentation of the Outstanding Service Award to Buck Olsen

The Outstanding Service Award is presented to an individual for outstanding exceptional contributions to society as a whole. Lawrence Oliver Olsen, otherwise known to all of us here as Buck Olsen, has been nominated by me to receive the Outstanding Service Award for 1980, seconded by Stan Longson and Grant Cross.

Buck Olsen is a household name in Edmonton. He is currently serving his ninth consecutive year as an elected member of the City's Council, and has played a major role in developing Edmonton's Light Rail Transit System (the first in North America), and Edmonton's unique convention centre. Through the course of years, Buck has earned the respect of the general public and his fellow surveyors.

Buck grew up during the depression on a homestead in Saskatchewan, and graduated from Prince Albert High School. Has anyone wondered where the name "Buck" originated? I have. Well it seems little Lawrence could never pronounce his own name -had trouble with "L's" - so the day his father shot a deer "buck" the youngster was so enthralled with the animal, he coveted the name which has stayed with him since.

After the Second World War, Buck entered the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, where he graduated in 1949 with a B.Sc. in civil engineering. After working with the firm Phillips, Stewart & Phillips in Saskatoon, Buck decided the "greener pastures" were definitely westward, and in 1951 moved to Edmonton where he was employed with Phillips, Hamilton & Associates.

Buck received his ALS commission on June 18th, 1952 and his DLS (as it was then known) in 1953. By the way, Buck has the dubious distinction of being commissioned the same day as myself, and received the permit number immediately preceding mine. In 1954, he joined with Geoff Hamilton in a partnership, Hamilton & Olsen Ltd. and, since 1964, has been proprietor of the firm Hamilton & Olsen Surveys Ltd. Buck has served on numerous ALSA committees, on the ALSA Council, and as president of the Alberta Land Surveyors' Association in 1959. It was my pleasure to serve with Buck on Council and committees over the years. I remember well the advocacy of the devil which made it possible to arrive at some darn good decisions, the enactment of which, we still derive a great deal of benefit therefrom.

Buck Olsen is a multi-talented man and a concerned man. It doesn't matter what task he takes on, he sees it through and the end result is always operating perfectly, or has greatly improved the course of action. You might call him a perfectionist. Buck still had time to participate and get involved at the community level also. He served on the board of stewards of the Garneau United Church, the executive of McKernan Home & School Association, as president of Windsor Park Community League, as director and treasurer of the Edmonton Rotary Club and on the executive of the University Little League Baseball for ten years.

In the early 70s, when Buck was becoming known for his involvement in civic matters he worked hard in making the people's concerns known at Council. When campaigning for his second term on Council, Buck's wife Audrey was knocking on doors in northeast Edmonton. An 85 year-old woman listened carefully to what Audrey had to say, and then replied, "I don't need a crazy cowboy from Saskatchewan telling me what to do."

Buck spends a great amount of time reading and reading, great volumes of Council reports and agendas, quite necessary for his involvement on the City's various boards and committees. To name a few, the Development Appeal Board, the Edmonton Regional Planning Commission, the Edmonton Metro Hospital District No. 106 (charged with the responsibility of developing new hospital facilities in East Edmonton), the Edmonton Exhibition Association, the Edmonton Public Library Board, and plays an important role in the City's standing committees on Economic Affairs and Utilities & Engineering.

Is it a small wonder that Buck cannot remember the last time he had seven days off to relax with his family at his log cabin on Castle Island, Lac Ste. Anne. Buck's life has been a commitment to better the lives of his fellow man. His wife, Audrey and children Andy, Lisa and Lowell must be very proud of him.

I understand "retirement" is quite a foreign word to Buck, but he would someday delight in having more time to devote to his surveying company.

My main purpose in nominating Buck Olsen for this Outstanding Service Award is to highlight to younger land surveyors the fact that service on our committees and Council is not the ultimate in service, but rather a beginning and a stepping stone towards a greater service to your fellow man, your community, your province and your country. Concern for upgrading our qualifications, our technical excellence in our work, and our discipline is important. However, all of this is of prime benefit to us as individuals and in developing ourselves as professionals from within.

We create a debt owed to society for giving us the privilege and opportunity to become professionals in the true sense. In order that we properly pay back this debt to society, and so as not to waste the training we have been privileged to receive, we must all extend ourselves out to our communities and give of our time to better our fellow man's way of life. There are many ways and opportunities for service. Buck Olsen has chosen the arena of politics, which is the least rewarding from a financial sense, but of greatest benefit to his fellow citizens.