November 6, 1910–November 27, 1993
BY MICHAEL A. BELL
I don't know how a person who is a historian of this sort [a paleontologist] can have any worry about death, because you're just part of a chain which has been going on for at least three and a half billion years. And things live and things die, and when you do, it causes a mess temporarily; a little whirl in your own society, but that's all. And we are a single species; one of probably ten million species that exists on the earth today, and of countless millions that have existed in the past. And we're a small segment in time; a transition from when we weren't to when we won't be, which I hope isn't as sudden as it might be.1
AT THE TIME of this interview, Everett Claire Olson (Ole to his friends) had been retired for six years. He lived another eleven, during most of which he was vigorous and productive. When he died, there was more than “a little whirl.” Death did not cheat Ole; he had a long, fulfilling life. He was a gifted teacher, a good friend, and a generous colleague. Years after his death, I truly miss Ole, my teacher and friend.
Everett C. Olson ranks among the great vertebrate paleontologists of the twentieth century. His extraordinary talents, even disposition, formal training in geology, and life-long fascination with biology enabled his great success as a scientist, teacher, and administrator. He also had a lot of fun.