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Richard ‘Paul’ Olsen

Former member of Finance Committee, business management professor, hiker and skier

Paul Olsen. (Courtesy photo)

Richard “Paul” Olsen died on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, at Lakes Regional General Hospital, after suffering from pneumonia. He was 79. He is survived by his wife Ruth, his daughter Heather, his son Mathew and wife Jacqueline, and was preceded in death by his daughter Marielle. Paul and Ruth have six grandchildren: Alexcia, Kylan, Conlyn, and Cayden Matson, and Sierra and Edrik Olsen.

Paul grew up in New Jersey and was a graduate of Bernards High School and Rutgers University, where he majored in political science. He married Ruth Hagen, also from New Jersey, in 1964. He entered the Air Force in 1965 at the rank of captain after completing Officer Candidate School. Ruth and Paul lived in Mississippi while he was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base. Paul specialized in electronic communications and earned his Master of Business Administration at the University of Southern Mississippi.

After the service, Paul attended Harvard University, where he earned his doctorate in 1974. While at Harvard, Paul was a teaching assistant and lecturer. Upon completion of his degree, Paul stayed on at Harvard for three years as a lecturer. In 1977 Paul and Ruth moved to Switzerland, where he taught an advanced program in business at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne.

Upon returning to the States in 1979, Paul taught at Boston University and later at Suffolk and Northeastern universities while continuing to lecture for Harvard Extension School. His teaching included small business management and concentrated on startup businesses. Paul was the author of several published case studies on the topic of small businesses. He retired from Northeastern in 2000.

Paul and his family loved the outdoors. They hiked and backpacked extensively in the White Mountains, using their summer home as their home base. They were also a skiing family, and the children were involved in racing at Loon Mountain. During retirement, Paul and Ruth traveled widely. When at home, Paul was always looking for a local chess or bridge game. In 2015 they moved to Lincoln, New Hampshire.

While living in Harvard, Paul’s legacy to the town included serving on the board of directors of Fruitlands Museum and on the town Finance Committee. He was also on the Finance Committee of the Harvard Unitarian Universalist Church and served on the Fourth of July Committee.

A celebration of Paul’s life will be held at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen this spring. In lieu of flowers, please contribute to your favorite charity or plant a tree in Paul’s memory by contacting the Arbor Day Foundation at



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