In game of winners and losers, David Olson stood out

  • Article by: HARRY MELANDER
  • Updated: July 22, 2014 - 6:14 PM

Chamber leader understood that what was good for business was good for workers.

Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President David Olson died July 16 after struggling with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Photo: Courtesy of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce/Associated Press,

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On Monday, families, friends, and Minnesotans who knew and appreciated David Olson paid their respects to him (“Minnesota Chamber of Commerce leader dies,” July 18). I met David through work. His job was advocating for businesses; mine was to make sure construction workers have a safe workplace and receive a fair day’s pay.

I would say to David, “When your people succeed, so do ours. That is how it’s supposed to work.” We both agreed on that. David was a man who understood that we each served different people and communities and was comfortable with that.

David also understood that with these types of jobs, there would be losers and winners. But at day’s end, we shook hands. David once told me of a discussion he had about how some people took displeasure with him because of the community he represented. I’ve also experienced that. Unfortunately, with David those people missed an opportunity to meet a good guy.

He got up early and worked late. He cared about Minnesota and its business community. His shirts were pressed, his shoes were polished (rubbers in the winter, for sure), and he was always ready with a handshake and a conversation about Minnesota. A good guy from the other side of the river, he will be missed.

Harry Melander is president of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council.

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