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Logan mourning loss of hometown hero

By Sarah Dallof | Posted - Mar. 11, 2010 at 6:16 p.m.



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LOGAN -- There's no mistaking that Logan was Merlin Olsen's city. There are reminders everywhere: a park in downtown named for Olsen, the Utah State University Athletic Hall of Fame, and the newly-named Merlin Olsen Field.

Olsen was at the naming ceremony in December during an Aggie basketball game. It was there that head football coach Gary Andersen had the chance to meet the football great.

"He gave me some real guidance that I'll value the rest of my life," Andersen said.

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The coach said Olsen also serves as a role model to his players today.

"What he's done, our kids can learn a lot [from] the way he conducted his life and carried himself off the field," Anderson said.

Olsen was also recognized for his academics. He graduated Utah State summa cum laude with a degree in finance.

Those remembering him Thursday weren't thinking about his accomplishments. They were thinking about the man they knew.

"He was like a Greek God, in a certain sense: full of grace, full of great physical strength, but endowed and blessed with a humility and compassion for ordinary people, and a razor-sharp mind," said Dr. Douglas Anderson, dean of the Huntsman College of Business at Utah State University.

Olsen is a beloved figure in Logan; say his name and someone will likely have a story. But as big as the legend he became, he always stayed humble, generous and, most importantly, himself.

"It was never you were ‘hanging with Merlin Olsen.' It was just Merlin still, and the guys," said Dale Mildenberger, head athletic trainer at Utah State University.

Olsen is also being remembered for always being a strong voice for the Aggies. In fact, university president Stan Albrecht said he knows of no other graduate whose impact was so far reaching or profound.

Utah State does plan to place a statue of Olsen in the southeast corner of the stadium. The football team will take to the field for their spring training with Olsen's number, 71, on their helmets.

E-mail: sdallof@ksl.com

Sarah Dallof

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