Former Des Moines mayor Richard Olson, who served two terms in the 1970s and who was credited with spearheading major downtown projects including the Des Moines Civic Center and the Des Moines Botanical Center, has died following a car crash in Dedham, Maine, KCCI reports.
Family and friends confirmed to the television station that Olson, 85, was one of three people killed in the car crash. The other two victims were identified as 32-year-old Phillip Carter and 25-year-old Roxanne Papken, both of Bangor, Maine.
Police said Olson's vehicle was traveling on Route 1A when it crossed the center line and struck Carter's truck head-on just before 6 p.m. Tuesday. Papken was a passenger in Carter's truck. Police said Olson was traveling toward Ellsworth, where he also lived, and they have not determined why he crossed the center line.
Olson was an agency manager for the Des Moines office of The Bankers Life Co., which is now known as Principal Financial Group Inc. He co-founded the city's Big Brothers mentoring program and from 1984 until 2002, Olson chaired the U.S. Olympic Committee for eight Midwestern states.
Olson is credited as being one of the key community leaders behind nearly $1 billion in downtown redevelopment that included building the skywalk system, Civic Center and Botanical Center, according to KCCI. He was also a Drake University football player and a City Council member.