Elizabeth Armstrong (Libby) Olson

Honored by:Carl Olson
Brick location:PAVER:30  map

Elizabeth Armstrong Olson was the only child of Edmund and Mary Crawford Armstrong of Ft. Dodge, Iowa. As a child, she had a half-wild mustang she named Peggy. No one but Libby could ride Peggy. Together they traveled widely in the city and its parks. While living in Nebraska, she enjoyed having a thoroughbred and a trotter and teaching her children to ride.

Libby enrolled at Iowa State in the fall of 1928. She was in charge of a section of the women's dormitory. She had an enviable career both scholastically and with extracurricular activities. She was a member of Gamma Phi Beta social sorority, Big Sister Chief, and the honoraries Mortar Board, Phi Upsilon Omicron and Omicron Nu. She was one of four women seniors recognized for their undergraduate accomplishments in the Bomb of 1931.

Upon graduation she was selected as Home Demonstration Agent in Muscatine, Iowa, allowing her to fulfill her wish to work with farm women. The Depression and drought years of the early 1930's required much innovation of academic ideas to real life problems and situations on her part. She always approached her work with an open mind and said that the farm women taught her more than she taught them. She must have had great rapport with the women with whom she worked.

In 1934, Libby married Carl Olson, Iowa State (DVM 1931), who was a graduate student at the Mayo Foundation and the University of Minnesota. Carl's career in research led them from Minnesota to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, University of Massachusetts in Amherst, US Army, University of Nebraska in Lincoln and University of Wisconsin in Madison. Libby loved living in all places and was active in church and community affairs wherever she lived.

Libby was able to travel with Carl on many of his research trips to places such as Australia, Fiji, Japan, Turkey and many European countries. She made lifelong friends wherever she traveled. She was also able to further develop her rosemaling painting skills on trips to Norway and Sweden. She had started her rosemaling when living in Amherst and continued it in Madison. Her pieces are treasured by all who have them.

Libby devoted herself to being a mother and homemaker. She had two sons and two daughters. The older daughter received both a B.S. and a M.S. degree from Iowa State and was a faculty member at two universities. Her other daughter has a B.S. University of Wisconsin with distinction and Phi Kappa Phi and has been actively employed in her profession. Both sons have Ph.D. degrees and are active in higher education and research. She had six granddaughters and three grandsons ages 1 to 29. One granddaughter has a Masters in Architecture and one has a Masters in Physical Therapy. A third, aged 21, is an internationally recognized dressage trainer and rider, carrying on with Libby's love of horses. One grandson, graduate in engineering and varsity crew, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was awarded a four-year scholarship for graduate studies.

Libby's chosen career, to be a mother and housewife, has resulted in a remarkable family of children and grandchildren who are making contributions to society through their varied professions. Libby's high standards, ideals and values are reflected in the children she nurtured and raised and in the grandchildren she encouraged and helped find direction.

Libby was gregarious and had many friends in PEO and other activities. We had known each other for more than 63 years when a massive stroke occurred and she lasted only 3 days.

It is most appropriate that Elizabeth (Libby) Armstrong Olson be remembered on the campus of the University where she received academic training.

Submitted on 1/30/95

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Olson (Libby)"