Barbara Olson, BSN, a long-time Arizona Public Health Association (AzPHA) member, served as Board President in 1993 and helped with many conferences and public health nursing section activities over the years, passed away on Saturday, August 27, two short weeks before her 87th birthday.

Barbara gained her nursing degree in New York and worked as a public health nurse in New York, California and Arizona. She led an impressive, effectual and caring life, working as a public health nurse, raising two daughters and being an ever present and engaged Grandma to her grandchildren. Barbara believed individuals, families, communities and organizations all could benefit from what Public Health had to offer. During her career, Barbara’s contributions to Public Health, in particular Adolescent Health, were many. Her enthusiasm, energy and visions were endless.

She is the only AzPHA member to date to receive the Arizona Public Health Association’s Harold B Woodward Award twice, first in 1991 and again in 1994 (shared with Bonnie Barclay). This award is given to members for work done for the advancement or betterment of the Association.

In Arizona, she served as the adolescent health consultant with the Arizona Department of Health Services’ Office of Women’s and Children’s Health. Through this role Barbara’s accomplishments included: bringing professionals and organizations that promoted adolescent health together to form the Arizona Adolescent Health Coalition; bringing health education, awareness and resources directly to adolescents through the Adolescent Health Risk Appraisal Project; bringing to Arizona, “Demystifying Adolescence”, a comprehensive training that included Adolescent Physical, Cognitive, Emotional and Social Development and making it available to public health and adolescent educators in the state; and being a co-author on the “Consent & Confidentiality in Adolescent Health Care: A Guide for the Arizona Health Care Practitioner” sponsored by the Arizona Medical Association’s Committee on Maternal and Child Health Care.

Barbara also served as the reproductive health/family planning program manager and adolescent health program manager in the same office. She was also a member of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, American Public Health Association and served as the Chair of the Arizona Collaborative for Adolescent Health, which she spearheaded its formation after her retirement from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Barbara’s advocacy for public health and adolescent health provided a foundation that many who followed her continued to build on to improve the health of Arizona adolescents and their families. She was a role model for many and a mentor to even more including local health department public health nurses, school nurses and those working with adolescents and at-risk communities throughout Arizona. She is remembered fondly and will be missed for her dedication to public health and her thoughtfulness for so many.

From her family, we are asked to celebrate Barbara’s life in our own way, perhaps raising a glass of our favorite drink in memory or thinking of her as you pass by or visit one of our local casino where she loved to visit for some ‘slot therapy’. Instead of flowers, Barbara’s wish to us is to do an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness-a familiar Barbara dictum and one that endears her in our heart further.