Shareholder Spotlight: Dr. Donny Olson

BSNC shareholder Dr. Donald (Donny) Olson is known by many throughout the Bering Strait region. Dr. Olson was born to Martin and Maggie Olson in Nome and raised in Golovin. He has an extensive list of academic credentials and his occupations include physician, pilot, businessman, reindeer herder and state senator.

Dr. Olson attended Covenant High School in Unalakleet. On weekends, his father flew him home from school in a small plane in order for him to be with his family in Golovin. These flights became flying lessons, and Donny earned his pilot’s license before completing high school. After high school he earned a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota in Duluth. He then studied at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and in 1983, received a M.D. from Oral Roberts University School of Medicine. After a medical internship with St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Youngstown, Ohio, Olson returned to rural Alaska to fulfill a life-long dream of practicing medicine in his home area.

As a physician in rural Alaska, Dr. Olson has experienced unique situations rarely encountered in urban settings; for example, he performed the last emergency Cesarean section done in Nome, and by necessity, he used only local anesthesia in performing the surgery, since Nome had no anesthesiologist. At a village clinic on Saint Lawrence Island, he delivered a premature infant who tried to come into this world by breech. When emergency medical technicians brought a young man with a gunshot wound to the head into the emergency room, Dr. Olson stabilized the patient for transport to specialized surgery in Anchorage; the patient recovered sufficiently to resume a productive life. Dr. Olson holds the rare distinction of having practiced medicine in all of western Alaska’s remote hospitals and he has visited many of the village clinics. In 1995, on the recommendation of the late Tim Towarak, Gov. Knowles appointed Dr. Olson to the Alaska State Medical Board.

In 2000, Dr. Olson was elected to the Alaska State Senate for District T, which includes 60 communities throughout North and West Alaska. He continues to strive to improve the conditions of living in rural Alaska through his position as Senator.

When the legislature is not in session, Dr. Olson resides in his hometown of Golovin in the home he grew up in. During the summer, he enjoys being a commercial pilot, spending time camping with his family. Olson’s wife is Willow Olson and his children are: Ipialalook (Martin), Igeetook (Junior), Dulgomick (Margaret), Digickson (Solomon), Susuzak (Elise) and Omilak (David).


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