ENG: John Walter Olver (born September 3, 1936) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for Massachusetts's 1st congressional district from 1991 to 2013. Raised on a farm in Pennsylvania, Olver graduated from college at the age of 18 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and later taught chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for eight years.
He served in both chambers of the Massachusetts General Court, being elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1968, and the Massachusetts Senate in 1972. He ran in a 1991 special election to succeed 17-term incumbent Congressman Silvio O. Conte, who died in office.
He was the first Democrat to ever represent the 1st congressional district.
Olver announced that he would not seek re-election in 2012, and retired at the end of his eleventh term in Congress. He was succeeded by fellow Congressman Richard Neal, who was redistricted from Massachusetts's 2nd congressional district.
Early life, education, and career
Olver was born on September 3, 1936 in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, the son of Helen Marguerite (née Fulleborn) and Thomas Horace Olver. His paternal grandparents were from England and his maternal grandparents were from Germany. Olver grew up on his father's farm, where the two tended cows, while his mother ran a boarding house which served families from Philadelphia and New York. Olver graduated from high school when he was 15 and enrolled in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry at the age of 18.
After earning his undergraduate degree, Olver went on to earn a Master of Science in chemistry from Tufts University in 1956, and a Doctor of Philosophy in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1961.
Olver taught chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for eight years, and later resigned to pursue a career in politics. He served two terms as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from January 1, 1969, to January 3, 1973. He later served for nine terms in the Massachusetts Senate from January 3, 1973, until his resignation in 1991 to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.
U.S. House of Representatives
Massachusetts's 1st congressional district, during the second decade of Olver's tenure.
The district is a primarily rural district that makes up most of Western Massachusetts.
On February 18, 1991, Congressman Silvio Conte died one month after taking office for his 17th term. That June, Olver, who had been sworn in for his 10th term in the state Senate a few months earlier, in January 1991, narrowly defeated Republican Steven Pierce in a special election for the seat, becoming the first Democrat to win the seat since it changed from being the 13th district in 1893. Olver resigned from the state Senate on June 15 and was sworn in June 18.
Olver won election to a full term in 1992, in 1994, the year which Republican took control of the House for the first time in 40 years, Olver ran unopposed. In 1996, he defeated State Senator and future Lieutenant and Acting Governor Jane Swift by a 53% to 47% margin. After 1996, Olver continually won re-election with high margins above 60%.
On October 26, 2011 Olver announced he would not seek re-election in 2012, clearing the way for any potential Democratic primaries due to Massachusetts leaving a Congressional seat after the 2010 United States Census.
CQ's Politics in America described Olver as "a staunch liberal who prefers to yield the spotlight to other similarly ideological members." Olver has consistently high rankings from the progressive lobbying group Americans for Democratic Action, and consistently low rankings from its conservative counterpart the American Conservative Union.
As a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Olver endorsed future President Barack Obama. In a tribute to an outgoing Olver and Barney Frank, Ed Markey remarked unlike other elected officials who embraced superficial positions to curry public favor, the two were "happy to tell you [they] disagree with you" if they believed so.
Olver is married to Rose Olver, a Professor of Psychology and Women's and Gender Studies at Amherst College, and together they have one daughter named Martha. They have lived in Amherst, Massachusetts since 1963.
On May 4, 2012 a new central bus station was dedicated in Olver's honor. The building is the first zero-net-energy transportation facility in the nation, generating heat and power via geothermal wells, photovoltaic panels and sunlight.
On October 28, 2010 Olver was awarded the Soldier On Award presented by the veterans group, Soldier On. This award, created for Soldier On by sculptor Andrew DeVries, recognizes individuals whose leadership and actions have advanced the goal of ending veteran homelessness.
February 12, 2013