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Saying goodbye to some well-known local residents in 2019
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Saying goodbye to some well-known local residents in 2019

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Fremont-area residents said farewell to some familiar faces — folks who’d spent years giving back to their communities.

They included a man known for his unwavering fight against Alzheimer’s disease, a respected band instructor and a beloved benefactor.

Marv Welstead

He was one of the founders of the Fremont Area Community Foundation, which has provided funds for a multitude of causes from feeding families and providing scholarships to promoting the arts.

The foundation — set to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2020 — has community assets of nearly $27 million. Since its inception, it has made approximately $31 million in grants.

In recent years, Marv Welstead was known for helping raise thousands of dollars for Alzheimer’s disease research.

The Fremont-born Welstead was a World War II veteran. He was employed by Equitable Federal Savings Bank from 1946 until his retirement, serving as president and chairman of the board. He and his wife, Jean, would have two sons, Bob and John.

Welstead was involved in many community endeavors and earned national recognition for his business expertise, but an illness that led to Jean’s death propelled him on a new mission — funding research in hopes of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

He would build the Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Collaboration (FAAC). Earlier this year, it was announced that FAAC had donated $215,000 to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for Alzheimer’s research.

Dan Kauble, who worked with Welstead to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research, would say: “For those who didn’t know Marv, his accomplishments were the best kept secrets in Fremont; for those who knew him (there were) too many to count,” Kauble said.

Welstead died May 25 at Methodist Fremont Health. He was 98 years old.

Brian Anderson

Former students and teachers and members of the 43rd Army Band of Nebraska would remember Brian Anderson for his sense of humor and passion for seeing others become the best they could.

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Anderson was the director of bands and orchestra at Fremont High School from 1988 to 2016. He joined the 43rd Army Band in 1988 as a saxophone player, eventually becoming commander in 2004.

He was inducted into the Nebraska Music Education Association Music Educators Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Anderson was 58 when he died Nov. 28 in his home in Fremont.

“He challenged me to be a better band director, a better musician, not only through what he would say to me but also by what he did on the podium or what he would say in visiting with us and other people,” said Eric Fahrlander, first sergeant of the 43rd Army Band. “He was a great model for music educators and was taken too soon.”

Mark Harman, vocal music director at FHS, also spoke highly of Anderson.

“He’s the single biggest influence, musically, in my life, ever,” he said. “I’ve never had anybody who came close to the impact he had on me as a musician.”

Fern Olson

Fremonters lost a local woman, who with her husband, Dale, supported numerous causes in the community and whom, friends say, had a consistently positive outlook.

Fern Olson died Jan. 31. She was 93.

“Fremont lost a community treasure,” said Melissa Diers, executive director of the Fremont Area Community Foundation. “Fern Olson was down-to-earth, always ready with a witty remark, and a joy to know. She brightened every room she entered. And she was an inspiration to many through her service to community and her commitment to faith.”

Diers said the Olsons led the way for the success and impact of countless charitable efforts and organizations throughout the area — and did so with optimism, grace and a grateful spirit.

The Olsons’ impact has been seen through numerous volunteer hours via board membership, which have included FACF, Fremont Area Art Association, Fremont Family YMCA, Fremont Rotary Club, Midland University and what is now called Methodist Fremont Health — to name a few.

They were chairs of Midland’s “A Vision Inspired” capital campaign and honorary chairs for the Fremont Opera House renovation campaign.

The Olsons have long supported the Fremont Area United Way. They funded renovation of the Olson Community Engagement Center at 445 E. First St., which houses various community entities.

Fern Olson is survived by her husband and family and friends.

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