UNMC News

UNMC loses one of its top supporters - Leland Olson, M.D.

Image with caption: Leland Olson
Leland Olson
Leland Olson, M.D., one of UNMC's top supporters, died Saturday due to complications resulting from a previous stroke. He was 92.

Dr. Olson received his medical degree from UNMC in 1944,completing his obstetrics and gynecology residency at UNMC in 1949. A military veteran, Dr. Olson primarily practiced at Methodist Hospital during his career. He was appointed to UNMC's volunteer faculty in 1952 and served in this capacity for 60 years, most recently as senior consultant.

He had a large obstetrics and gynecology practice in Omaha and delivered thousands of babies during his career, retiring in 1986.

A native of Palmyra, Neb., he and his late wife, Dorothy, were married for 66 years prior to Dorothy's death in 2010.

See sidebar: Friends, colleagues remember Dr. Olson

The Olsons were longtime contributors to UNMC for a variety of women's health and university initiatives.

Memorial service, visitation set

Visitation with the family will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. July 14 at Roeder Mortuary, 2727 N. 108th St. A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. July 15 at Forest Lawn Cemetery, 7909 Mormon Bridge Rd., with a memorial service immediately following at 11 a.m. at Roeder Mortuary.

In 2005, they provided funding for The Olson Center for Women's Health outpatient facility, which occupies the entire fourth floor of the Durham Outpatient Center and is the largest outpatient clinic on the UNMC campus. This was their fifth major donation to the department of obstetrics and gynecology since 1986.

The Olson Center for Women's Health was initiated in 1993 through their generosity, and in addition to housing an outpatient clinical facility, it has recently surpassed $5 million in research funding awards to UNMC and UNO researchers.

The Olson Center's outpatient facility is one of only a handful of truly multidisciplinary women's centers in the country. In addition to Ob/Gyn, the UNMC departments of internal medicine, surgery, radiology, and psychiatry also are represented, as well as the hospital's mammography, ultrasound, and physical therapy departments.

picture disc.

"Nobody in Nebraska has done more for women's health than Leland Olson."

UNMC Chancellor
Harold M. Maurer, M.D.

Since 1986, the Olson family has made multiple gifts to the University of Nebraska Foundation worth millions of dollars. In addition to the women's center, these gifts included:

  • funding for two research floors in UNMC's The Lied Transplant Center to create the Olson Biomedical Laboratories;
  • providing funding support for the Center of Nursing Science at UNMC;
  • creation of a resident research fund and a distinguished chair for UNMC's obstetrics and gynecology department;
  • funding for one of the earliest -- and now largest -- endowed chairs in the UNMC College of Nursing; and
  • two endowed chairs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"Nobody in Nebraska has done more for women's health than Leland Olson," said UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D. "It was his passion. He truly made a difference for our students, residents, faculty and patients. He will never be forgotten."

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Dr. Olson's impact

  • "The Olsons' support for UNMC has been nothing short of extraordinary. Their generosity has allowed us to undertake a transformation of how women's health care should be delivered in our region. They were visionary people who were ultimately driven to find new and better ways of delivering health care and educating future generations of health professionals."
    - Carl Smith, M.D., professor and chairman of UNMC's Ob/Gyn department
  • “Lee and Dorothy Olson are among the most generous donors ever to the University of Nebraska Foundation. It was a team effort. They appreciated the excellent education they received at the medical center and the professional opportunities that resulted. They maintained their allegiance and support throughout their lifetimes and played a substantial role in the growth of both the College of Medicine and the College of Nursing.”
    - John Niemann, Ed.D., senior vice president, University of Nebraska Foundation
  • “Dr. Olson was a great supporter of women’s health and the medical center. He devoted his life to women’s health and continued after his retirement from active practice. He supported all facets –- from training of providers to research to provision of services.”
    - McClure Smith, M.D., chairman of the Ob/Gyn department, 1987 to 1996.
  • “We were both small town boys and our fathers ran hardware stores. We both practiced in Omaha our entire careers. We were longtime friends and enjoyed each other’s company. We respected each other and we both felt strongly about giving back to the university.”
    - Stan Truhlsen, M.D., retired ophthalmologist and a medical school classmate of Dr. Olson
  • “Lee was really a good guy and a caring physician. He distinguished himself with excellence in patient care and student education. He was a major moving force in helping UNMC provide health care for the underserved.”
    - Joe Scott, M.D., chairman of the Ob/Gyn department, 1978-1987