In 2019, Deacon Frank and Mary Olmsted both received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Saint Meinrad Alumni Association. Here is the introduction speech for their award.
As we all know, there are certain celebrities in the world who don’t need to use their last name to be immediately recognized. Just their first name is enough. For example, there’s Oprah, there’s Adele, there’s Fabio, to name just a few. All of these are so-called “one-name” celebrities. No last name is required. People immediately know who you’re talking about when they hear just the first name.
Here at Saint Meinrad, the same can be said about the alumni couple we honor this evening. Almost from their first days on campus 42 years ago, no last name has ever been necessary to identify these two. For all these years, when someone mentioned “Frank and Mary” or “Mary and Frank,” it was immediately clear that they were talking about the Olmsteds. From the very start, they have been a “one-name” couple in the consciousness of this place. No last name required.
But because of who they are, they have given an even deeper meaning to the phrase “one-name” couple. Because it’s rare that you would ever mention one without mentioning the other—as if their two names are actually one name. They are such a team, that you can’t even imagine one without the other. With Mary and Frank, it’s always been a package deal.
The recent feature in the On The Hill newsletter listed some of their many accomplishments. Whatever they’ve done in life—and it’s a lot—has always been an outflow of who they are. They are each in their own way avid readers and scholars, who are totally dedicated to passing on the faith they have received, not only to their children and grandchildren, but to countless others as well: Frank as a permanent deacon, campus minister and theology teacher; and Mary as director of religious education, theology teacher and retreat team member. Both have also taught on occasion for Saint Meinrad’s Permanent Deacon Formation Program. And Frank is currently in his third term on our Board of Overseers, on which he continues to serve with great distinction.
Even though their working life has mostly taken place elsewhere, they have always maintained Saint Meinrad as one of their important touchstones. How many couples do you know who would choose to spend their wedding anniversary at a monastery on a regular basis? Well, Mary and Frank have done so every year since 1977! And they’ve already booked their reservation at the Guest House for the days after Christmas this year, during which they’ll be celebrating their 45th anniversary. Their choice to celebrate their anniversary here every year is a testament to the deep, lifelong relationships they have established here—not only with the monks, but with countless others as well.
When Frank and Mary first arrived here in the summer of 1977, they were the first married couple to enroll in the Summer Session classes offered at that time. As they have often said with a laugh since that time, “Saint Meinrad didn’t quite know what to do with us—where to house us, how to handle us, how to include us.” Well, Frank and Mary, I’m happy to say that now, 42 years later, Saint Meinrad knows exactly what to do with you. I am pleased to congratulate you and invite you forward as the first married couple to jointly receive the Distinguished Alumnus and Alumna Award.