Vera Olson, the widow of a former University of Missouri-Kansas City chancellor and a longtime supporter of the four-campus system, has died.
Olson, whose late husband, James C. Olson, was chancellor from 1968 to 1976, died Tuesday in Kansas City. She was 96.
She served as first lady of the University of Missouri System when her husband was president from 1976 until he retired in 1984.
The Olsons focused attention on making UMKC the University of Missouri System’s campus for the arts. The couple led a campaign to create the UMKC Performing Arts Center, named in James Olson’s honor in 2008.
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UM System curators established the James and Vera Olson Fund for the Arts to bring performances to all four campuses.
A native of Nebraska, Vera Olson wrote, with her husband, four books, including “Nebraska Is My Home” for children and “The University of Missouri: An Illustrated History,” according to a statement Thursday from the UM System.
In 2012, she received the Chancellor’s Medal, the university’s highest non-academic award. She is survived by two daughters and two granddaughters.
A memorial service is being planned for later this year. Memorial contributions in her honor can be sent to the James and Vera Olson Fund for the Arts, in care of UMKC, 5115 Oak St., Suite 229, Kansas City, MO 64110.