On July 4 our good friend Olof W. Hedbom died of a rapidly spreading cancer.
The cartographic community will remember him as a prominent representative with an outstanding record of service. On national level Hedbom made a career as cartographic designer and atlas editor. He rose from the rank of draughtsman engaged with the Litografiska Anstalt Esselte to general manager of the map publishing firm Liber Kartor. Continually Olof maintained fruitful relations with geographers who knew how to appreciate his ability to visualize terrestrial phenomena. At an advanced age he made himself familiar – reluctantly but with success – with computer mapping. He leaves behind an impressive series of atlases, predominantly educational, most of them excelling in clarity and legibility.
In his thirties Olof participated in the so called Esselte Conference on Applied Cartography held in Sweden in 1956 which laid the foundation of an International Cartographic Association (ICA) in which he himself would later play an important role. He served the Association in the successive capacities of Vice-President (1972–1976) and Secretary-Treasurer (1976–1984). During these years I had the pleasure of visiting many countries together with Olof to discuss a diversity of ICA-questions among which membership and subscription problems, conference and seminar venues. As certain countries in those days refused visa to conference participants for political reasons sometimes tricky affairs had to be solved. Our frequent contacts led to good relations between our families. Repeatedly Olof was a welcome guest in our home in Holland.
His knowledge of the historical background and economic situation of the visited countries facilitated contacts. His remarks often spiced with humour moved people to abandon their reservations. He displayed his faculties on many occasions in a variety of now and then critical circumstances.
So I remember our first contact with the Chinese in the 1970’s to discuss their possible ICA membership when Olof animated a formal dinner by serving Peking Duck, their favourite dish, to our hosts. Not to forget our visit in 1981 to Poland where Martial Law was proclaimed and where we succeeded to safeguard the planned conference in Warsaw.
In recognition of his merits the General Assembly of the ICA presented him in 1989 with the Honorary Membership.
Finally we wish his dear sister Ingegerd and his children Lars, Ulrika and Ann-Sofie, who together took care of him until the bitter end, strength to bear and overcome their loss.
My wife and I will always remember Olof’s warm friendship!
F. J. Ormeling Sen.
Further reading: Honorary Fellowship for Olof Hedbom