Robert Olson – Yelm H.S. Principal – Obituary


Robert Edward Olson  (Obituary)

Appeared: 2007-04-06  The Olympian

Robert Edward Olson, age 81, greeted the world from the top of a kitchen table on July 15, 1925 in Montborn, Washington. He said goodbye from the living room of his Tumwater home on April 3, 2007. He and his two older brothers were raised on the shores of Borrows Bay, where they learned to work hard, play hard, and value family. Bob graduated in 1944 from Anacortes High School, where he played year-round sports and starred on the State Tournament basketball teams. After a stint in the United States Navy, he enrolled in the University of Washington and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. During his time at the University of Washington, he found time to play basketball with the Buchan Bakers. His teaching career began at Neah Bay High School, where he soon became principal and coached championship football teams. In 1958, he was hired as the principal of Yelm High School, where he served for 20 years. He retired from the school district in 1980. Dad was a beloved father and keystone for three families. He owned a boat years before he purchased a car and spent thousands of happy hours fishing. He loved the anticipation between the first bump of a curious fish lured to his bait and the solid pull from a hook well-set. The extended Olson families and the Yelm community have lost a “good man”. Bob was preceded in death by his son, Mark Edward Olson, first wife, Frances Ruth Crumb Olson, and second wife, Barbara Whitcomb Olson. He is survived by his wife, Cathy Olson; his children, Janet Olson MacGregor, of Seattle, Robert J. Olson, of Olympia, and Robert M. Olson, of Lacey; and numerous stepchildren, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Remembrances may be made to Dollars for Scholars in the name of Robert E. Olson, to Yelm Community Schools, or to Trout Unlimited. No formal services will be held.

Four Inducted into new YHS Hall of Fame February 21, 2003

Four Inducted into new YHS Hall of Fame
By Jenna Loughlin

February 21, 2003  Nisqually Valley News

Yelm High School unveiled its new Hall of Fame with an induction ceremony during which three Yelm alumni were honored for their athletic ability along with one coach.

Dave Wolf, center for the state champion 1958 boys’ basketball team, Aaron Kalama, 1963-67 multi sport athlete and Patsy (Walker) Pointer, 1977 girls’ track state champion were all chosen to bet he first athletes selected for the Hall.  Bill Ward, also from the 1958 boys basketball team, was the first coach inducted.

“These people show us that nothing is impossible when everyone works together,” said the high school’s Athletic Director Ron Barnard.

Each inductee was given a plaque with their high school senior picture and a brief paragraph describing their achievement, a duplicate of which will be hung in the gym hallways by the boys’ and girls’ locker rooms.

Before the honorees themselves were handed the microphone, someone introduced them to the crowd.

For Ward, Wolf gave a description of what it was like to have him as a coach.

“He took a bunch of raw kids and turned us into champions,” Wolf said.  “He was maybe the most influential man in my life.”

Ward then talked about the season and what made the team so special.  “We had to win 17 straight games to get the title,” he said.

“These people would not quit.  They even snuck into the gym on weekends.  They were dedicated and they had a winning attitude.”

“This team was a winner all the way.  They were an incredible group to coach and it was my honor to do so.”

Next, a quite excited Bob Wolf came up. “I’ve waited so long to roast him,” Bob said of his younger brother Dave.

However, Bob was rather nice, describing what life was like in Yelm during the 1958 run along with the accomplishments of his brother.

“Yelm closed down,” during the 1968 playoffs, Bob said, adding that throughout the whole season, his parents store, Wolf’s Department Store, had a window dedicated to the team, posting its record and game scores.

He also mentioned Dave’s being named to the All-state team, his time spent at  Stanford and the University of Puget Sound on a law degree and most recently, the failing mill he purchased in Oregon that he has turned into a success.

“You’ve been a real inspiration to me,” Bob said.

“Thank you, Bob, I think,” Dave said after his brother’s speech.  Of the introduction itself, “I am proud to receive the award for our team,” Dave said. “Gary Beggs, Al Heath, Dennis Kinney, George Coulter, Mike Gould, Phil Peoples, George Hobart, Barrie Wilcox and John Stark.”

“Basketball is really a team sport.  You don’t get there by yourself.”

Dave joked that, even though it might seem like it has, not much has changed.

“I didn’t like running stairs then, I don’t like running stairs now.  I couldn’t pass behind my back then. I can’t pass behind my back now.  I couldn’t dunk then, and I can guarantee that I can’t duck now.  I was and still am very proud to say I am from Yelm. It’s a wonderful place to live and a wonderful community.”

Kalama’s mother, Zelma McCloud, accepted the award for her son who was tragically killed in a car accident two years after his graduation from high school in 1967.  Superintendent Alan Burke remembers Kalama’s reputation as the two were in high school at the same time, though in different districts.

“He was about as good as anybody around here,” Burke said. “He loved playing sports,” McCloud said. “It came to him naturally.” McCloud also said that Ward was probably one of Kalama’s favorite coaches.

“I am grateful for this honor and grateful for the school to remember him,” she said.

Wrestling coach Gaylord Strand spoke about Pointer, describing her as a “pioneer” since she was competing just as Title IX was being introduced and as a “female phenom.”

Strand listed off numerous records Pointer set, many of which are still standing, and wondered how much better they could have been if the track had not been made of cinder.

“She was something that was really great,” said Strand.

“I couldn’t have done it without the support of my community,” Pointed said, after which she got a little chocked up and teary eyed.

“She’s never at a loss for words at home,” joked her husband, Gary Pointer.

Patsy Pointer mentioned that her coaches taught her that, “In order to be great, you had to work hard, you had to be honest, you had to have integrity and couldn’t let your head get over you.”

“I was scared to lose,” Pointer said.

“I am very humbled,” she said, adding, “I miss being home.”

Inductees to YHS Hall of Fame
Inductees Receiving Their Award

A Board’s Eye View of the Sixties

Introduction: The material in this section is taken directly from the school board minutes of the decade. The minutes themselves are a sampling of the official record kept during that time. The selections have been chosen in an attempt to provide the reader with a sense of some of the problems confronting the district and the board. The selections have been organized chronologically in eight categories. These include budget, personnel, discipline, the district, curriculum, community relations, the federal government, and church and state.

Budget

It was agreed that a future purchase of “hydrotex”

The Superintendent explained the Mr. Swanberg wished to sell his new Wollensak Tape Recorder to the school since the machine was used exclusively with the foreign language classes. The Board agreed to purchase the recorder for the sum of $150.00. (February 9, 1961)

After a review of the 1962-63 preliminary budget calling for a total expenditure of $458,000 Mr. Phillips moved the adoption of the preliminary budget. Mr. Eby seconded. Carried. . (May 10, 1962)

The superintendent was asked to investigate the use of Welfare workers for beautification of the campus. (May 10, 1962)

Quotations on vertical Venetian blinds and Kool Shade Screens for the clerestory windows in the new addition to the McKenna school were presented. The blinds cost $575.00 and the screens cost $967.38. it was decided that the cost of drapes should be considered before definite action is taken. . (May 10, 1962)

Mr. Phillips moved that the low bids of $3.612 per barrel for P.S. 300 fuel oil and $20.25 per ton for Wyoming Stoker coal presented by the Olympia Oil and Wood Products Co. be accepted. Mr. Edwards seconded. Carried. (July 12, 1962)

Mr. Phillips moved that the low bid of 24 cents per loaf on bread and 32 cents per dozen on buns presented by Jordan Baking Co. be accepted. Mr. Kirsten seconded. Carried. (July 12, 1962)

Mr. Phillips moved that school lunch prices be increased five cents per meal. Mr. Edwards seconded. Carried. (July 12, 1962)

Mr. Edwards moved that the District pay to each teacher one half the cost of registration fees and required meals at the professional meetings attended on a State-wide Professional Day and that transportation be provided for those attending meeting held beyond a reasonable commuting distance thereby requiring overnight lodging. One half of lodging costs shall be reimbursed up to a maximum of four dollars. Wherever transportation is provided it is expected that those traveling to distant areas shall travel together in a school vehicle. (October 8, 1964)

Budget

It was agreed that a future purchase of “hydrotex”

The Superintendent explained the Mr. Swanberg wished to sell his new Wollensak Tape Recorder to the school since the machine was used exclusively with the foreign language classes. The Board agreed to purchase the recorder for the sum of $150.00. (February 9, 1961)

After a review of the 1962-63 preliminary budget calling for a total expenditure of $458,000 Mr. Phillips moved the adoption of the preliminary budget. Mr. Eby seconded. Carried. . (May 10, 1962)

The superintendent was asked to investigate the use of Welfare workers for beautification of the campus. (May 10, 1962)

Quotations on vertical Venetian blinds and Kool Shade Screens for the clerestory windows in the new addition to the McKenna school were presented. The blinds cost $575.00 and the screens cost $967.38. it was decided that the cost of drapes should be considered before definite action is taken. . (May 10, 1962)

Mr. Phillips moved that the low bids of $3.612 per barrel for P.S. 300 fuel oil and $20.25 per ton for Wyoming Stoker coal presented by the Olympia Oil and Wood Products Co. be accepted. Mr. Edwards seconded. Carried. (July 12, 1962)

Mr. Phillips moved that the low bid of 24 cents per loaf on bread and 32 cents per dozen on buns presented by Jordan Baking Co. be accepted. Mr. Kirsten seconded. Carried. (July 12, 1962)

Mr. Phillips moved that school lunch prices be increased five cents per meal. Mr. Edwards seconded. Carried. (July 12, 1962)

Mr. Edwards moved that the District pay to each teacher one half the cost of registration fees and required meals at the professional meetings attended on a State-wide Professional Day and that transportation be provided for those attending meeting held beyond a reasonable commuting distance thereby requiring overnight lodging. One half of lodging costs shall be reimbursed up to a maximum of four dollars. Wherever transportation is provided it is expected that those traveling to distant areas shall travel together in a school vehicle. (October 8, 1964)

Personnel

Mr. Elmer Erickson and Miss Helen Simon appeared before the Board as the representatives of the Faculty Salary Committee. Mr. Erickson discussed the inadequacies of the present salary schedule. He agreed to have his committee present revised salary schedules for consideration at the next board Meeting. (February 9, 1961)

Miss Frances Edwards, third grade teacher, explained to the Board that she had accepted an overseas assignment with the Society of Friends and found later that she would be unable to return to Yelm on the opening day of school. She requested permission to start her teaching assignment on September 5th. By common consent the Board agreed to grant her request. (May 11, 1961)

The Superintendent reported that teacher applicants for Primary positions were virtually non-existent. For the Kindergarten position the only strong applicant is a negress. It was a general consensus that a well-qualified negro teacher would be preferred over an elderly teacher. . (May 10, 1962)

Miss Helen Simon, vocal music instructor and dramatic coach, briefed the Board about her work in driver education, health, music, and dramatics. She capably pointed out the handicaps presented to the music and dramatic activities because of inadequate facilities. December 13, 1962

Mr. Brezicha reported a complaint that a bus driver was supposedly drinking. The Superintendent was requested to inform the person in question about this criticism. April 11, 1963.

The Chairman asked for a closed meeting with Mr. Ted Blackman. The Board discussed with Mr. Blackman the incident at the football game at Rochester on October 2 when he had an ineligible player (put out of game by referee) return to the game wearing a different jersey. They also discussed other personal problems confronting Mr. Blackman.

The meeting was declared open again and all visitors were allowed to reenter the room.

Curriculum

Mr. Panks reported on the results of the post high school survey made recently in Thurston Count. The figures from the Yelm survey do not conform to the pattern of the county-wide compilation. Yelm students are apparently not as eager for College training as students in the rest of the County. May 26, 1960

One means of improving teaching in the Yelm Schools would be to provide clerical and secretarial assistance to teachers. October 27, 1960

Mrs. Robert Wolf, Mrs. Stan Dunagan, Mrs. Harold Weir, and Mr. Carl Matthews appeared before the Board on behalf of the Pre-Shool P.T.A. to seek the Board’s Support for the establishment of a kindergarten program in the Yelm Schools. The visitors were asked to amke a survey of the potential kindergartners for the next several years. They were advised that any action on the part of the local Board hinged upon the degree of State financial support forthcoming during the next bienium. December 8, 1960

The Superintendent reported:

A contract has been signed with the Federal Government whereby the school agrees to construct an exhibit of a Fallout shelter for Civil Defense. The government will pay $250.00 for the exhibit which become the property of the school after six months. (February 9, 1961)

The Board by mutual agreement approved the employment of graders to assist the English instructors with the checking of themes during the next school year. (Thursday, May11, 1961)

The District

The Lacamas School District [Pierce County] may take action to consolidate with the Bethel District. Action is being taken by some in the Lackamas District to seek transfer of that part of the territory bordering the Tisch Road into the

Yelm School District. October 27, 1960

Mrs. Robert Wolf, Mrs. Stan Dunagan, Mrs. Harold Weir, and Mr. Carl Matthews appeared before the Board on behalf of the Pre-School P.T.A. to seek the Board’s support for the establishment of a kindergarten program in the Yelm Schools. The visitors were asked to make a survey of the potential kindergartners for the next several years. They were advised that any action on the part of the local Board hinged upon the degree of State financial support forthcoming during the next biennium. December 8, 1960.

Mrs. Schwahn and Mrs. Soeteber made a request for the school bus to come down the Berry Valley road at least during the winter months if not continually. (October 12, 1961)

Several requests for the purchase of the school bell at McKenna have come before the Board. It was agreed that the bell had sentimental value to the School system and it should be retained. (October 12, 1961)

The southern section of the Nisqually Indian Reservation has now been placed in the Yelm School District. . (May 10, 1962)

Mr. Kirsten moved that the School District retain the Eighth Grade Graduation Ceremony. Mr. Edwards seconded. Motion carried with Eby abstaining, Panks voting no. (October 12, 1961)

The Special levy election was very successful carrying by 95% in Yelm and 67% in McKenna. (May 15, 1964)

Mr. W.E. “Babe” Herness registered a complaint about the time taken for athletic practice after school hours. It was explained that the turnout time would be regulated this year by the late bus schedule. (August 13, 1964)

Mr. Henderson moved the Board accept the Activities Pay Schedule. Mr. Brezicha seconded. Carried. May 20, 1965

Mr. Wright moved the Board call for a second special levy election for $35,000.00 in September. Mr. Henderson seconded. Carried May 20, 1965

Mr. Caldwell reported: Enrollment – 1071 – the same as October 1, 1966 (November 10, 1966)

Discipline

Mr. Kirsten moved that Elizabeth be allowed to participate in the commencement exercises receiving a blank diploma. Mr. Panks seconded. Carried. (May 26, 1960)

Dennis Haddon appeared before the Board to request permission to participate in the graduation ceremony, Dennis has been taking a correspondence course in English III to satisfy graduation requirements and the final results of this course would not be available prior to Commencement. (May 26, 1960)

Mr. Kirsten moved that Dennis Haddon be allowed to participate in the commencement exercises and receive a blank diploma. Mr. Eby seconded. Carried. (May 26, 1960)

Duane Wood who had been expelled last spring appeared before the Board to request readmittance to high school. Duane was given a opportunity to write out his promise of serious intent to succeed in school if readmitted. The Board was impressed with his statments. Mr Kirsten moved the Board reinstate Duane Wood as a high school student. Mr. Panks seconded. Carried. (September 14, 1960)

The conduct of Duane Wood has been satisfactory is his re-admission to school but his academic work is not as good as desired by his teachers. (October 27, 1960)

Mr. Olson, High School principal, presented the discipline case of Arney Rogers who had possession of Mr. Blackman’s keys for several weeks. The boy has a poor record scholastically and has accumulated an excessive number of demerits. After a conference with Mrs. Rogers privately, Arney was called in and given the conditions by which he would be permitted to reenter school on a probation basis. Arney was instructed to write a letter expressing his desire to continue in school and how he intends to conduct himself in the future. This letter shall be presented to Mr. Olson on Monday, May 14. (May 10, 1962)

The Demerit system used in the high school as a disciplinary device was discussed. It was decided that Mr. Olson, High School Principal, should be invited to a future meeting for a continued discussion of the subject. (June 14, 1962)

Principal Robert Olson was interviewed by the Board. Mr. Olson explained the demerit system used to control misbehavior. He also explained that two unexcused absences or four unexcused tardinesses resulted in the lowering of grades. The Board hoped there could be found some method of control which did not affect scholastic ratings. Mr. Olson was asked to come back to the next meeting with his recommendation. (July 12, 1962)

Mr. Olson, High School Principal, presented a written statement of “Attendance Policies” and reported that he had not found a plan to control unexcused absence and tardiness which would be as effective as the present procedure, namely, that upon the occurrence of two unexcused absences during a grading period the student shall have his grades lowered on grade point in each subject from which the student was absent.

The Board urged the Principal to keep parents of student with unexcused absences well informed. (August 9, 1962)

Principal Olson explained the plan used by the high school requiring students to make up demerits at the rate of three per week. He also

explained the organization of the faculty discipline committee and introduced the committee members. The Faculty Discipline Committee has recommended the suspension of Vernon Bircher for the remainder of the present semester.

Vernon Bircher appeared before the Board to request re-entry into the school immediately. He has been on suspension since December 7.

After talking to Vernon the Board discussed the situation at length. Mr.Edwards moved that the Board support the Discipline Committee. Mr. Eby seconded. Carried.

Vernon was called back to receive the verdict. The Chairman advised Vernon to reenter the next semester and seriously apply himself to studies and maintain good citizenship. He will come back with a clean slate. December 13, 1962

Mr Olson, High School Principal, explained that Pat Sprouffske had been suspended from school one week ago because of an accumulation of insubordinate actions. Mrs. Sprouffske and son, Pat, appeared before the Board. Pat was requested to make a written statement pertaining to his future behavior. By common consent the Board reinstated Pat on probation. (May 13, 1965)

Principals Olson, Southworth, and Thun presented their request for Board backing of their propose to control the personal dress and grooming of students.

Mr. Edwards moved that the Board back the proposals of the Principals, Mr. Panks seconded. The vote, 2-2. It was then decided that the Superintendent should get a legal opinion concerning the power of the Board to establish rules and regulations for the dress and personal grooming of students. The date of Thursday, May 21 was set for a special meeting to continue the business of this meeting and to reopen the question involved. May 13, 1965

Proposed Policy For Attendance In School Of Married Students

1. Student who are married must declare their married state at the time of marriage or at the time of enrollment in the school.

2. Married students, because of their added responsibilities, shall not hold the positions of leadership in student affairs, hold student offices, represent the school as individuals in programs, contests, conferences and similar events, or participate in extra-curricular activities.

3. When marriage takes place during the school year, the married student shall check with the principal before re-entering school.

4. An unwed expectant mother shall withdraw form school at a time set in consultation with the counselor and principal and before her condition becomes obvious. She shall be permitted to re-enter school after the birth of her child but only upon the recommendation of her physician and the consent of her parents or guardian, or the proper child welfare agency. Upon re-entry, the school staff shall make every effort to help rehabilitate her toward a successful life. This effort shall be continued as long as her conduct is compatible with the welfare of the group.

5. A married, expectant mother shall report her condition to the counselor and withdraw form the school, when the fact is known and before it becomes obvious. She may re-enter school after the birth of her child.

6. Married students shall be expected to conduct themselves in a commendable manner and refrain from undue reference to married life. Any problem arising in this respect shall be handled on an individual basis by the principal. The decisions in each case shall be of a nature as to insure a wholesome school atmosphere for all the students.

7. All cases coming under the above regulations shall be handled on an individual basis and will be strictly confidential and in cooperation with the parents, guardian and/or other proper authorities.

8. The failure of a student to comply with these regulations can be the cause for suspension from school. (Nov. 10, 1966)

The Board expressed themselves as dissatisfied with the attitude of the teacher under question. Visitors were given an opportunity to express themselves. Each of them concurred with the feeling of the Board.

Mr. Henderson moved that the Board recommend to the Superintendent that Mr. Blackman be no longer retained as a member of the teaching staff. Mr. Brezicha seconded. Carried. (October 8, 1964)

Principals Olson, Southworth, and Thun were invited into the meeting. Discussion centered on public and private criticisms of school personnel. The closed meeting was concluded at 9:55p.m. (January 13, 1965)

Letters of resignation from the following teachers were read: Clarice Dormads; Lilla Derosa; Norene Wilkinson; Kenneth DeLacey; and Edgar Prescott.

Each Principal gave a verbal evaluation of his staff and recommended reemployment of those who had not resigned. Special discussion centered on Mrs. Driscoll, a primary teacher. Mr. Thun reported her pupils were making satisfactory progress in academic achievement. Mr. Henderson was critical of her disciplinary control.

The board indicated dissatisfaction with the Principals for their failure to have written reports on weak teachers on the file with the District Office. (April 8, 1965)

Community Relations

A letter from Mr. Cam Iverson offering to pick up the cafeteria garbage was read. The Board decided to offer the garbage to Mr. Iverson for ten dollars for the year. August 25, 1960

Mr. Wayne Vancil requested the use of the Cafeteria for the Cub Scout’s Annual Pancake Feed. (February 9, 1961)

The Lions Club has indicated an interest in building shelters for bus children. (November 9, 1961)

The Federal Government

Report made by Supt. Stevens on progress made to obtain Federal aid. Two laws have been passed appropriating money for schools. One for buildings and the other for maintenance and operation. A survey will have to be completed to determine the number of students whose parents work for the government. (November 29, 1950)

Mr. Ely moved that Floyd S. Phil lips be the authorized represent active of the School District to file for Federal funds. Mr. Kirsten seconded. Carried. 1953

The new program of subsidy school milk was discussed. The Board expressed the desire to have milk served to all children. August 29, 1955

The Board indicated that they were favorable to participation in the National Defense Education Act. and felt that most emphasis should be placed

on the enrichment of the science laboratories. November 10, 1959

Local Indians have been pressing for assistance in securing free lunches for their children. (December 12, 1963)

An Indian delegation with Mrs. Merle McCloud and Mrs. Burgess as spokesmen presented a letter from Mr. Lindemuth (attached) stating that funds were available to assist the hot lunch program for needy Indian children.

Mr. Lee Edwards moved the Board authorize Mr. Newland to write a letter to the State Department of Education to request funds for the support of Indian lunches. Mr. Henderson seconded. Carried. (February 13, 1964)

The Superintendent reported on the following:

a. His attendance at a Civil Defense Conference held in Olympia on February 6, 1964.

(February 13, 1964)

Mr. Ebv moved that Mr. Newland be designated as the official representative for the School District to submit and administer National Defense Education Art projects. Mr. Edwards seconded. Carried. May 13, 1965

Church and State

Mr. Eby moved that the St. Margaret Mary Church be permitted to rent six classrooms at one dollar per day per room. Mr. Panks seconded. Carried. (Thursday, May11, 1961)

The Attorney general’s ruling on baccalaureate service, Gideon Bibles and Tax Sheltered Annuities. . (May 10, 1962)