Munson Health
Clarine Olson

Note: This article first appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of Focus.

Clarine Olson says her husband taught her two valuable lessons: the importance of supporting her community, and the wisdom of using charitable gifts to offset tax obligations.

Since his death in 2002, Clarine has maintained the pattern of charitable giving and community involvement that Richard "Dick" Olson established during his lifetime. Former owner of Brown Lumber Co., Dick was known for his generosity and a strong sense of community that led him to serve on more than 15 civic organization boards and support dozens of community projects. Clarine has continued with active membership on various boards, including the Munson Healthcare Corporate Board.

Dick Olson provided an income trust for Clarine, which will be disbursed to several of their favorite organizations upon her death, including Munson Healthcare.

"That money will continue to support the things we’ve been involved with even after we are gone," she said.

The family’s ties to Munson Healthcare are strong. Clarine’s four children and eight of her 12 grandchildren were born at Munson Medical Center. In 1991, Clarine had open-heart surgery at Munson, back when it was newly available in Traverse City. "I was so grateful to be able to have it at Munson and not have to travel." She still works out at Munson three mornings a week, where she did cardiac rehabilitation 17 years ago.

Dick’s treatment for prostate cancer in 1991 prompted a large gift to the Biederman Cancer Center. The Olsons also made substantial contributions to the Women’s Health Pavilion project and Munson Hospice House.

"I guess we’ve used Munson Medical Center so many times we always wanted to support it," Clarine said. Clarine has gladly continued the family tradition. She made significant gifts to the new Smith Family Breast Health Center - the first year in honor of her daughter, Jill, a breast cancer survivor. During the campaign’s second year, she hosted a fundraising event at Ciccone Vineyards in Suttons Bay and made another sizeable donation, even though she may never use the center herself.

"I have mammograms done at my doctor’s office, but when I toured the new center I was so impressed by how beautiful it is. I wanted to support it because I’m glad this center is here and available to the community."

Clarine says participating in planned giving provides her with a sense of peace and satisfaction. "Knowing that I have a part in assuring that Munson and other organizations I believe in will be here for my children and grandchildren is very reassuring."