New Baylor Law Faculty Chair Will Honor Memory of Attorney Lyndon Olson Sr.

November 29, 2006

A Baylor Law School luncheon program on Thursday, Nov. 30, will honor the memory of the late Lyndon L. Olson Sr. of Waco and mark the establishment of a newly endowed professorship bearing his name and the name of his brother, William A. Olson Sr., a retired Houston attorney.

Brad Toben, dean of Baylor Law School, said the Lyndon L. Olson and William A. Olson Chair of Local Government and Constitutional Law is being underwritten through the generosity of Lyndon Olson's son and daughter-in-law, Ambassador Lyndon L. Olson Jr. and his wife, Kay. Lyndon Olson Jr. recently completed an appointment as the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden after being nominated for this post in 1997 by President Bill Clinton. Olson is a graduate of Baylor University and attended Baylor Law School.

Ambassador Olson previously served as a member of the Texas State House of Representatives from 1973-78 and as chairman of the Texas State Board of Insurance from 1979-87. He also served as president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 1982, and as president and chief executive officer of Travelers Insurance Holdings Inc., the Associated Madison Companies Inc. in New York City, and the National Group Insurance Co.

Toben said the new Olson chair recognizes the "profound impact" of Lyndon Olson Sr. and Bill Olson Sr. upon their communities, the state and the nation in their practice of law.

"This is especially so in their practice in local government and voting rights matters," Toben pointed out. Both Lyndon Olson Sr. and Bill Olson Sr. were born in Waco and graduated from Baylor Law School in 1950.

"Baylor lawyers are well known for their devotion to service as a by-word of their lives and profession. The Olson family provides such a pointed illustration of this theme of service to the welfare of others and to the good of our state and nation," Toben said. "In honoring the memory of Lyndon Sr. and in honoring Bill Sr., I make special note of the powerful and incisive advocacy of Lyndon Sr. and the brilliant and creative legal analysis and strategizing of Bill Sr. in the seminal United States Supreme Court redistricting case of Avery v. Midland County. From this case arose our modern day formulation of one person -- one vote, and our constitutional mandates on representation and redistricting. The devotion of Lyndon Sr. and Bill Sr. to local government law and practice was singular, affirming the prime importance of sound government at the level of governance closest to the people. The Ambassador and Kay have in the Olson tradition lived lives of service to their state and nation, following in a rich family tradition of looking beyond self to others. The establishment of this Chair gives us opportunity to honor the memory of Lyndon Sr., to honor Bill Sr. and to express our deep gratitude to the Ambassador and Kay while assuring that the principles and ethic for which they stand will be passed on to generations of Baylor law students."

Numerous members of the Olson family are expected to attend Thursday's noon luncheon, including Mrs. Frances M. Olson of Waco, who was married to Lyndon Olson Sr. for 62 years. The program, to be held at the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center, will be hosted by Baylor President John M. Lilley, Dean Toben and Professor David M. Guinn, who serves as The Louise L. Morrison Professor of Constitutional Law and Master Teacher at Baylor Law School.

A dedicated member of the Waco community, Lyndon Olson Sr. died Dec. 20, 2005, at the age of 80. Graduating from Waco High School in 1942, he attended John Tarleton Military Institute and then entered active military service with the U.S. Army, serving three-and-a-half years of active duty. Following graduation from Baylor Law School, he began working for the City of Waco legal department and served as the City Attorney from 1951-55. Lyndon Olson Sr. went on to begin a private practice as a partner of Bryan, Maxwell, Wilson and Olson. His 55 years of private practice included the evolution of the law firm of Olson and Olson, where he served with his son, Charles. He remained active as Of Counsel in the Law Firm of Haley & Olson at the time of his death. Additionally, he was the incorporating attorney for the City of Bellmead and served as its city attorney for more than 50 years.

Lyndon Olson Sr. also was active in various leadership positions throughout the Waco community. He served as chairman of the Brazos River Authority and president of the Waco School Board, Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce and the Waco McLennan County Bar Association. He was a member of the board for the Salvation Army and was a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason. A founding family of Central Presbyterian Church, the Olsons play an active role in the life of the church. Lyndon Olson Sr. taught a men's Sunday school class for 46 years and served as chairman of the Board of Deacons and the Board of Trustees. He also was a Ruling Elder.

William A. Olson Sr., who also saw active duty with the U.S. Army during World War II, practiced as a distinguished attorney in Houston for many years and still resides in that city following his recent retirement. He and his wife, Virginia, have four children, two daughters and two sons.

During his career, Bill Olson was active in both state and national legal and municipal organizations. He was a frequent speaker at various seminars and conferences of these groups and before a wide assortment of civic and professional associations. He has written extensively on municipal law subjects and has authored many state statutes relating to local government, including the original Municipal Annexation Act of 1963.

He served for eight years as the City Attorney of Houston from 1966-74 and as the general counsel of the Texas Municipal League from 1958-63. He is a member of the Houston Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas, where he served as chairman of the Public Utility Law Section from 1976-77. He is a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. He also served as president of the Texas City Attorneys Association from 1969-70. Currently, he is Of Counsel to the Houston law firm of Olson & Olson L.L.P., which he founded in 1974 with his son, William A. Olson Jr., a 1972 Baylor law graduate and Waco native.