Tributes to Congleton science teacher Gerry Olsen, 'an inspiration to all'
TRIBUTES have been paid to a respected science teacher who died suddenly from a suspected heart attack.
Gerry Olsen, former deputy headteacher at St Joseph's College, Trent Vale passed away on Monday, aged 61.
The father-of-three, from Congleton, has been praised as an 'inspirational and dedicated' teacher who had a significant impact on the lives of his students.
The current deputy head of St Joseph's, Mark Rayner, said Mr Olsen had been a 'mentor and father figure' to him .
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He said: "Gerry was absolutely passionate about education in Stoke-on-Trent and he was extremely respected by the staff and students. He was quite forthright in his teaching style, but he cared so much for his students.
"He was a brilliant man and a very close friend of mine."
Born to a Norwegian merchant seaman, Olaf Olsen, and a Liverpudlian mother, Bridget Rowan in Toxteth, in 1951, Gerry was educated at De la Salle Grammar School in Liverpool.
He then became the first member of his family to win a university place – reading Physics at Imperial College, London.
After graduating, he returned to his home city to take a PGCE at St Edward's College, and subsequently taught at several different schools across the country.
He produced some of the best O level and A level results wherever he taught, and joined St Joseph's as director of science in 2002.
He was later promoted to deputy head of the school after excelling in his previous postition.
Mr Olsen died suddenly after returning from a break to Anglesey.
A postmortem is expected to confirm the cause of his death in the coming weeks.
A dedicated family man, Mr Olsen leaves behind his wife, Eileen, and children, Bridget, Theresa and Billy.
John Bryden, director of sixth form at St. Joseph's, said: "When Gerry came to work at St Joseph's, I was the first person to meet him.
"He spent an hour grilling me about the school. He saw the potential for science here and was determined to improve the facilities."
During his time at the college, Gerry increased the numbers attending physics classes in Year 13 from just six to 60.
Mr Bryden said: "The change has been amazing.
"Gerry managed to get children interested in science from a young age, and continue that interest through to university."
St. Joseph's headteacher, Roisin Maguire, said: "Gerry was a giant among men, brave of heart and determined to achieve the very best for all the young people he served."
A funeral will be held at St Mary's Church in Congleton on Friday November 16, from at 2pm.