Robert T. ‘Bob’ Olson
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — Robert T. “Bob” Olson, 87, of Middletown, Connecticut, formerly of Hancock, entered into Heaven’s gates to meet Jesus on March 3, 2018.
Bob was born to Thomas and Louise Olson on February 8, 1931, in Superior, Wisconsin. Bob had three older siblings, Signe Linhart (Olson), Oscar Olson and Ralph Olson. Bob grew up in Superior and graduated from Superior High School in the spring of 1949. Upon graduation, Bob studied ministry work briefly at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.
In 1953, Bob joined the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Carson, near Colorado Springs, Colorado, during the Korean War. It was during this time that he was bitten by the “radio bug” as he was working in the Public Information Office. He was given the task of conducting interviews with the soldiers stationed in Korea and other communication assignments using Morse code.
After his time in the Army, Bob returned to Wisconsin and met Edda P. Gentile at a spaghetti supper in Hurley. They married soon after and went on to have five daughters.
During this time, Bob was the manager of WJMS radio station in Ironwood, and began his career in sports broadcasting. He covered high school basketball games all over the region.
After working in Ironwood for several years, Bob and his business partner, Joe Blake, purchased the WMPL radio station in Hancock, in 1969. The station went on to become instrumental in the Copper Country as it was the community’s source for sports, talk shows, weather, especially Snow Control Central (although Bob will admit he never did figure out how to control the snow), advertising and religious programming.
In 1970, Bob met with legendary hockey coach John MacInnes and took over as the “Voice of the Michigan Tech Huskies.” He would go on to broadcast Tech hockey for 35 years.
He was also the president of the Michigan Tech Blue Line Club and member of the MTU Community Advisory Committee. Bob was inducted into the Michigan Tech Hockey Hall of Fame on October 29, 1994, and received the American Hockey Coaches Association Jim Fullerton Award, in 1996, for his dedication and service to the sport of college hockey.
In 1997, Bob received the WCHA Distinguished Service Award and became known as the “Dean of the WCHA.” He and his wife Edda also began the innovative WMPL College Hockey Poll, which acted as a clearinghouse for all college hockey scores before the existence of the internet.
Michigan Tech has also named an award after him, the Bob Olson Award, which is given annually to an outstanding newcomer in Tech sports.
After the death of his wife Edda in 2000, Bob decided to sell WMPL and his home in Hancock. After a farewell tour in 2001, Bob transferred the “Voice of the Huskies” to Dirk Hembroff, who continues to broadcast games to this day in the press box that was named in Bob’s honor.
Bob left Michigan and became a full-time Catholic Lay Evangelist at Presentation Ministries in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2002. While there, he was the director of the Disciple Retreat Center for four years and also ran a radio program where he re-aired old radio shows of Father Al Lauer.
In 2006, Bob moved to Connecticut and began working with Father Bill McCarthy at My Father’s House. Bob was also a member of the Unbound Inner Healing team at the Hartford Archdiocese Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office. He spent several years traveling both nationally and internationally, conducting seminars, conferences and equipping disciples for Jesus Christ.
In 2016, at the age of 85, Bob got back on the radio again and started WCAT in Connecticut, where he became a program moderator and broadcast multiple Christian radio programs through the internet.
Even in his last days, Bob never slowed down. He spent his free time driving around Connecticut visiting nursing homes and providing spiritual encouragement to the elderly through scripture, dance and song.
Some of his greatest accomplishments include climbing Pike’s Peak, founding the Hancock Canal Run, running around Lake Superior, running the Boston Marathon eight times, once in two hours and 45 minutes, traveling the country and serving others in each and every community in which he resided. Above all, however, Bob would tell you that his greatest accomplishment was in 1981 when he joined the Catholic Church and gave his life to Jesus.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas and Louise Olson; his three siblings, Signe, Oscar and Ralph; as well as his long time friend and business partner, Joe Blake.
Bob is survived by five daughters, Ramona Olson (Mike Barry) of Arlington, Massachusetts, Rosana (Kyle) Hedahl of Des Moines, Iowa, Perian Olson of Grand Rapids, Julian McDonough of Chicago, Illinois and Krissy Olson of Austin, Texas. Additionally, Bob is survived by four grandchildren, Amber (Roy) Jointer of Des Moines, Iowa, Angel Olson of Des Moines, Iowa, Lauren Witvoet of Grand Rapids and Nicholas McDonough of Chicago, Illinois; two great- grandchildren, D’Angelo Olson and Kapriece Jointer of Des Moines, Iowa; many nieces and nephews; as well as his brother in Christ, Father Tom Simon; and a host of dear and close friends including Mitchell Lake, Don and Betty Kilpela, Mary Ann Schulze, Dennis and Micki Sliva, Thomas Ayeung, Dr. Rhonda Chervin, Cynthia Bielawaski and Dr. Lorraine Hartnett. Bob had thousands of friends all over the world, thus, if you are reading this, it is likely that you are also one of them.
The funeral services will be held in Middletown, Connecticut. A memorial service will be held during the week of the Canal Run on Thursday, July 19, 2018, at 11 a.m. at The Church of the Resurrection, in Hancock, followed by a luncheon in the fellowship hall.
Burial will take place at the Lakeside Cemetery directly following the service.
Online condolences can be made at oneilldennisfh.com.
The O’Neil-Dennis Funeral Home is assisting the family with local arrangements.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. Therefore he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and release of prisoners from confinement………” Luke 4: 18-19.