Fred Olney Endowed Engineering Scholarship

Type: Endowed

Donor: Alumni

Established: 1980

Born in Maryville, Missouri, in 1912, Fred moved with his family to Siloam Springs, Arkansas, when he was just six months old.  At the height of the depression in 1933, Fred began his studies at John Brown University, having watched the institution mature through his teenage years.  When he graduated with a science degree in 1937, Fred stayed for one year to teach.  With support from JBU, he then went to Texas A & M to pursue a mechanical engineering degree.  While in Texas, Fred met Laverne and they were married during the Christmas season of 1941, just after Fred finished his degree.  They immediately went to a war-time assignment with the Wright Aeronautical Company in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Fred was intimately involved in the production engineering of the Liberty engine which was famous for its reliability and for its service as prime mover of the P-38.  While the Olneys were in Ohio, their first son, Fred Paul, was born.

In the summer of 1945, as the war effort was ending, the Olneys stopped at JBU on their way back to Texas.  Anticipating a great influx of students from returning armed forces personnel, Dean Irwin Wills made Fred an offer to stay and teach.   He stayed, holding the position until his retirement in 1978.  Fred  earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Arkansas in 1958, thus encouraging JBU’s faculty to pursue advanced degrees in engineering.  He was the chairman of the engineering division from 1961 through 1976.  The Olneys’ other two children were born in Siloam Springs, Robert in 1946 and Rosanne in 1949.  All three children graduated from JBU.

Over his long tenure at JBU, Fred added several other credentials to his teaching portfolio.  In 1951, Fred became a Professional Engineer and founded Siloam Engineering Services.  Fred became a Registered Land Surveyor in 1965 and for many years ran a successful surveying business employing many student assistants.  He was the first head of the engineering division at John Brown University and assisted the division as it made the transition in the early 1960s from technology to a modern engineering emphasis.  He served the University for 33 years.  After retirement, Fred revived his business and fulfilled many surveying needs in the area, especially for the city of Siloam Springs.