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Alumnus William Olah Serves Business and Rose-Hulman

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
William Olah Leaning On Desk

Devoted Alumnus: William Olah, a 1974 biological engineering graduate, is a Terre Haute attorney who gives back to Rose-Hulman as a trustee. (Photo by Terry Miller)

William Olah, J.D., is a self-proclaimed "townie"-born and raised in Terre Haute-and a proud Rose-Hulman graduate who has spent most of his professional career in the city.

A man-of-all-trades neighbor, who was a Rose-Hulman alumnus, inspired Olah to attend Rose-Hulman. "Whenever I asked (that neighbor) where he learned how to do so many things, he would tell me: Rose Polytechnic," he says. "I never visited any other schools; never applied anywhere else; never even set foot on the campus until the first day of classes. This was a sacred place that I respected so much."

Now, Olah is a member of the Rose-Hulman Board of Trustees and an accomplished attorney who has helped negotiate several sizeable planned gifts to benefit the institute. He is an equity partner who leads the business division in the Terre Haute law firm of Wilkinson, Goeller, Modesitt, Wilkinson & Drummy, and has been part of three petitions for writs that have gone before the United States Supreme Court.

That's not bad for a 1974 biological engineering alum who turned an internship into a job at General Motors' AC Sparkplug division before earning a law degree from the University of Arkansas. He then returned home to start his law practice and become a local business owner.

Drake Produce, Inc., a fruit wholesaler, gave Olah an opportunity to draw upon his skills as a biologist, engineer, and lawyer.

"I had an itch to try something different than law," he shares.

The business was later sold to a Cincinnati, Ohio company that "wanted the business more than I did," Olah recalls.

For the next 27 years he has helped a variety of clients with Wilkinson, Goeller, Modesitt, Wilkinson & Drummy, LLP, and established a strong reputation of being a legal adviser and business consultant.

Olah's relationship with Rose-Hulman's Board of Trustees started when he was asked to represent the Student Government Association at a board meeting. He left in awe of the trustees and their commitment to the institute, and vowed to also give back and serve Rose-Hulman. That's happened as an attorney who has been involved in estate planning and corporate planning for clients, and as a trustee for the past seven years. That devotion was rewarded in 2014 with the Honor Alumni Award from the Alumni Association.

"I have been very fortunate, worked hard, and made strong partnerships along the way," he says.