General George Olmsted
If there ever was a natural born leader, it was George Olmsted. Among his achievements: President of his class at the US Military Academy for three years, a Major General in the Army serving with distinction in World War II, a successful businessman in the insurance and banking industries, and a philanthropist who would create and fund The Olmsted Foundation.
Early in his business career, General Olmsted saw the future in developing high potential opportunities, anywhere they surfaced. Neither borders nor languages were allowed to impede pursuit of opportunity. He was convinced that knowing one’s neighbors created strategic advantage. That belief in strategic advantage through cultural knowledge underlies all of the General’s successes, in the military and in business, and of course, at the Olmsted Foundation.
The three hallmarks
of the General’s leadership were:
- Complete clarity about goals
- Delegation to the well-trained and well-equipped
- Conviction in the necessity of American leadership
Answering the call of service, General Olmsted returned to active duty in the Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor. His reputation as a logistician placed him in critical positions before and after World War II.
Some highlights of his accomplishments include:
- Organizing Allied factories and secret supply routes through caves along China’s rivers
- Successful rescue of Allied POWs from Japanese camps at the end of World War II
- Command of all US government military assistance, Office of the Secretary of Defense
- Commanding General of the 103rd Infantry Division of the US Army Reserves
Promotions, awards and the gratitude of Presidents followed.
Returning to civilian life, General Olmsted’s vision of opportunity and leadership led to continued success in business. His expanding company controlled entities in the insurance and banking industries, operating across the country. Headquartered in Washington, DC, General Olmsted assured his companies’ continued growth with assertive networking through members of Congress.
Based on his experience in post-war China, General Olmsted felt strongly that young military leaders should be educated broadly, cultivating an awareness and experience from a foreign culture that would contribute to stronger leadership. This notion began General Olmsted’s life as a philanthropist with the advent of the Olmsted Foundation.
Graduates West Point as First Captain of the Corps of Cadets, ranked 2nd in class academically.
Returns to civilian life in Des Moines, works with his father running a small insurance agency.
Business success allows Olmsted to buy a second insurance agency.
Over the next two years, Olmsted purchases three additional insurance companies. Olmsted owned companies now operate in six states.
Recalled to active service in the Army.
Helps establish the G-5 general staff section responsible for civil affairs, lend lease operations, training of Allied military forces, and clandestine operations in the China-Burma-India Theater.
Colonel Olmsted promoted to Brigadier General and takes command of the G-5 section.
Returns to Des Moines and resumes business career.
Recalled to active duty and assumes command of the Army’s military assistance operations supplying equipment and resources to Allied governments.
Promoted to Major General, assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and assumes command of all US government military assistance.
Released from active service.
Becomes Commanding General of the 103rd Infantry Division of the US Army Reserves until 1959.
Buys control of United Services Life Insurance Company, USLI writes life insurance for military personnel.
Establishes the George and Carol Olmsted Foundation.
General Olmsted passes away, leaves the majority of his estate, approximately $40 Million, to the Olmsted Foundation.