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Olver taught chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for eight years and later resigned to pursue a career in politics. 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. This award created for Soldier On by sculptor Andrew DeVries recognizes individuals whose leadership and actions have advanced the goal of ending veteran homelessness.
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. 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.