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Don Ketchum

Staff Writer, AIA365.com

John Olson was a man who made his life count

Dec 15, 2012

Arizona’s high school sports community lost a good friend a few days ago with the passing of John Olson.

John was a good guy.

He was a long-time high school basketball referee, and in later years became a fixture at sporting events of all sorts around the state, coordinating the statistical service business he owned.

He was serious and meticulous about his officiating and his stats, but he also had a good sense of humor.

A few years ago, during the weekend after Thanksgiving, he had all of his stats people fanned out across the state. It was a rare day when some high school football championship games were played along with the annual Arizona-Arizona State rivalry, in Tucson that particular year.

John asked me if I would be interested in assisting with stats at a couple of prep championship games in the Walkup Skydome at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

I obliged and enjoyed the experience, learning a greater appreciation for John and others who do that job on a regular basis.

A winter storm was approaching Flagstaff and I was hopeful my wife and I could get out of there before the flakes started to fall.

We were too late. Driving for a mile or so on Interstate 17 made me realize that continuing to do so would be a dangerous proposition, particularly for one who grew up in the desert and rarely had the opportunity to drive in snow.

My wife and I turned around and went back into Flagstaff to look for a hotel room. We were fortunate to find one, but obviously had not brought any travel necessities with us.

It ended up being a fun experience. I told John about it, and he was very amused. Just about every time he saw me after that, he would laugh and say, “Do you think it’s going to snow tonight?’’ or, “Watch out for that snow.’’

Now St. Peter will have someone to help him count the people as they pass through the gate.

John Olson will make sure everything is accurate.

Rest in peace, sir. You will be missed.

 

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