On April 22, 2022, Horrocks Engineers and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) held an event to honor the life and legacy of Lonnie Olson. Lonnie’s family, friends, coworkers, and industry peers gathered outside the Horrocks Pleasant Grove office to commemorate the recent addition of a UDOT survey control marker bearing Lonnie’s name and his professional licensed surveyor (PLS) number.
Personalized, official survey markers, such as the one installed in honor of Lonnie, are extremely rare – bearing testament to Lonnie’s character, the many contributions he made to the survey profession, the mentorship he provided, and the friendships he made during his nearly 29 years of service to Horrocks and his field. Each of the three speakers at the memorial service described these and other qualities as they fondly recalled Lonnie.
Speaking of Lonnie’s forward-looking attitude and far-reaching impact within the survey community, Riley Lindsay, UDOT Survey Specialist, described the last conversation he had with Lonnie about the new State Plane Coordinate System (SPCS). “I think I’ve figured it out!” Riley recalled Lonnie exclaiming, excited to have discovered how Horrocks’ systems and equipment were going to successfully use the new SPCS, which hadn’t been updated since 1983.
Jim Horrocks, Project and Quality Manager at Horrocks, then spoke of watching Lonnie grow up to eventually join Horrocks. Agreeing with Riley, he described Lonnie’s desire to continually be on the leading edge of technology and survey accuracy by encouraging Jim to buy the newest and best technology. “My mental image of Lonnie is always of him sitting in my office with a fist full of purchase orders telling me why we need to buy the latest and greatest of something.” Jim recounted, “He always had that Lonnie smile on his face because he knew from the second he walked into the door that he was going to get his way ... but he still went through the motions to make me think I had some decision in the matter.”
Jim believed that it was Lonnie’s tenacity and passion for survey that helped keep Horrocks on the leading edge and that his desire for advancement earned him great respect in the industry and among his team.
Scott Bishop, Horrocks' Right-of-Way (ROW) Design Manager, brought the ceremony to a close, getting choked up when talking about his friendship with Lonnie and referencing Lonnie’s patented smile as well. Scott commented on the rarity of the personalized survey marker, which will likely be used by surveyors for many years or even decades to come, and read Dale Ashcroft’s powerful words sent to the Online Positioning User Service (OPUS) in support of Lonnie’s personalized marker:
“This survey monument is a memorial monument in memory of Lonnie Olson, who passed away July 23 of 2021. It has been placed by Horrocks Engineers in his honor. Lonnie was an extraordinary surveyor for them, and it was a major loss to the local survey community. … We want to do something permanent in his honor. He did so many good things to help others, especially when it came to surveying.”
Finishing his remarks, Scott presented an exact replica of Lonnie’s survey marker to Tracy Olson, Lonnie’s wife, before inviting guests into the office for light refreshments and encouraging them to remember Lonnie by sharing their own tales of him.
We would like to thank the speakers, UDOT, and everyone else who contributed to Lonnie's memorial service as well as all those who attended to pay their respects to Lonnie and his family.
Lonnie Merrill Olson
1975 - 2021