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July 12, 2012 Volume 33, No. 34

Awards honor two retirees for their work since leaving the university

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HONOR The Retiree of the Year awards offers the opportunity for retirees to celebrate the achievements of two of their own. On June 14, Robert “Robin” Blake Jr., left, a professor emeritus in the family and community medicine department, and Judy Olson, a former executive assistant in the department, were honored. Chancellor Brady J. Deaton was on hand for the awards. Rob Hill photo


Judy Olson, Robert Blake are retirees of the year

Nearly 300 university retirees and friends gathered June 14 at the Reynolds Alumni Center for the Retiree of the Year awards. The event offers the opportunity for retirees to celebrate the achievements of two of their own.

 Each year, a retired staff member and retired faculty member are selected to receive awards that honor their accomplishments during retirement that help the community or advance the university. This year’s staff award winner was Judy Olson, and the faculty award winner was Robert “Robin” Blake Jr.

Olson retired in 2002 from the family and community medicine department, where she was an executive staff assistant. Since retirement, she has been involved in community theater by acting in and directing productions at the Maplewood Barn Theatre and Columbia Entertainment Center (CEC). 

Olson has also served as president of the Columbia Entertainment Co., where she conducted monthly board meetings and made decisions affecting theater productions. She fostered community relationships through events such as Art in the Park and the Fall Festival.

“Judy’s efforts and contributions will be recognized as a driving force behind the success of CEC, both in the past and in years to come,” a nominator wrote.

Olson also volunteers at the McCambridge Center, a substance abuse treatment center for women. Many clients say that her smile and caring personality put them at ease.

At the June 14 event, Olson said she was “surprised, grateful and honored to receive the award.”

Blake, a professor emeritus of the family and community medicine department, retired in 2000. 

He has continued to serve the School of Medicine as a teacher, mentor and member of the medical school admissions committee. Students have recognized his contributions with five post-retirement teaching awards. In 2009, they chose him to serve as investiture marshal at the school’s graduation ceremony.

Blake is director of the Boone County Council on Aging, a member of the medical advisory board of the Missouri chapter of the National Abortion Rights Action League, and volunteers at two Planned Parenthoods, one in Kansas and one in central Missouri.

He spends several hours each week as a volunteer at Shepard Elementary School, working one-on-one with students needing help in their studies or on special projects. He coordinates an after-school chess club of about 15 students.

JoNetta Weaver, principal at Shepard, said that Blake “teaches our children by modeling every day his love for learning and providing the wisdom that gives purpose for their learning.”

Blake told the retirees at the event that volunteering at the elementary school has been rewarding and satisfying. “There is a big need in the public schools system for people like us to be involved in educating students,” Blake said.

He encouraged retirees to contact a local school to ask how they can help. “The schools have many wonderful teachers, but they can’t do it all,” Blake said.