Sidney Couple Honored with 2014 Bucklew Award

On February 13, the University of Montana marked its 121st birthday with Charter Day, an annual celebration of the University’s establishment in 1893.

John and Marilyn Olson at Charter DayFor Sidney, Mont. residents John ’62 and Marilyn Olson, the day was especially meaningful, as they received the Neil S. Bucklew Presidential Service Award. Presentation of this award is part of the University of Montana Alumni Association’s Charter Day Awards ceremony. The Bucklew Award recognizes the work of those who have fostered a deeper understanding of UM’s needs and strengths throughout the community and state, and is one of several awards presented on Charter Day.

During his tenure as chair of the UM Foundation Board of Trustees, John’s leadership was critical to the success of a capital campaign that raised $131 million for UM.

“The goal was to raise $100 million, but our Board and other volunteers were very active and exceeded expectations,” says John. “It was just a fantastic mixture of people and great cooperation between staff, faculty and colleagues—and such a rewarding time for me personally.”

Today the Olsons remain very active in the UM community, with John sitting on the National Advisory Board for Grizzly Athletics. Beyond their time and expertise, the Olsons have generously given gifts supporting Grizzly athletics, the Grizzly Marching Band and the UM School of Business Administration.

The Olsons say it’s exactly 624.7 miles from their home in Sidney to the UM campus, but the trip is always worth it.

“We are just so humbled and honored by this award,” John says. “We can think of many people who have come before us who were instrumental in the successes that UM enjoys. We are so pleased and grateful to receive this honor.”

John serves as president and CEO of the Blue Rock Companies, a Pepsi-Cola bottler and beverage distributor in Sidney that serves eastern Montana and western North Dakota. The Olsons are active in their community.

Marilyn is a charter member of P.E.O., Chapter BA and High-Noon Traders Investment Club. Both are active in the Pella Lutheran Church. John is a past chairman of the Foundation for Community Care, which is the financial support group of the Sidney Health Center, and a former president of the Sidney Chamber of Commerce.

John and Marilyn received UM’s Community Service Award in 2006 for their outstanding commitment to the University and their community.