Roy Olson | College of Pharmacy’s longest loyal donor
Shortly after graduating from the College of Pharmacy in 1952, Roy Olson was sworn in and commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He spent the next two years serving in a medical unit through what he calls, “a variety of interesting tours” in Japan and Korea. Serving with him were several former classmates from the college.
“We still meet from time to time to share lunch, a few stories,” he said. “Wonderful friends.”
After returning from Korea, Roy opened Olson Brothers Pharmacy in Edina with his brother and fellow College of Pharmacy alum Doug in 1955. They owned and operated the store until they retired in 1994. After subsequently changing hands a couple of times, the store remains open today and is operated as Olson Brothers: A Walgreens Pharmacy.
Olson credits his time at the college as having a lasting impact on him personally and professionally.
“The College of Pharmacy gave me a wonderful and useful education that lasted a whole career,” he said. “The college has given many things, among them, lifelong friendships, access to many college programs, and a chance to succeed.”
“Doug and I have many fond memories from our college days,” he added. “We could never forget Dean Rogers, Drs. Hadley and DiGangi, and others. The influence from these men lasted our whole lives.”
During his nearly 40-year career, Olson supported the College of Pharmacy through numerous gifts, including funding for the chair of pharmacy practice and computer labs, and supporting the Center for Leading Healthcare Change. He volunteered for fundraising campaigns and other college initiatives, and he served as the president of the college’s Century Mortar Club. He also served as president of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy.
The area that is especially important to him is the support of students. In 2006 he and his brother Doug established the “Roy and Doug Olson Scholarship” which supports students interested in community pharmacy.
“Doug and I had a long and rewarding career,” he explained. “Scholarships are a simple way to say ‘thank you’ to our college, the University and to our profession.”
Olson and his brother chose to support students who want to follow in their footsteps as independent community pharmacists because he says, “We practiced ‘face to face’ pharmacy and came to know our patients and clients as personal friends. Community pharmacy allows this to happen. There is no better way to practice.”
He continued, “Community pharmacy still offers an opportunity to establish your own practice, and to experience its many rewards, both professionally and economically.”
In addition to his career in pharmacy, Olson is active in the Edina business community. For the past 25+ years he has volunteered at Mount Olivet Rolling Acres, which serves people with developmental and other disabilities. There he started an annual golf tournament that has raised more than $1 million. He is regarded across the state as a civic and professional leader.
Today, he and his wife Cammie split their time between their homes in Minnesota and Arizona.