Thomas Austin Olander

October 26, 1990November 18, 2021

Thomas Austin Olander, 31, of Raleigh, NC, died Thursday, November 18, 2021, at home where he lived with his mom and brother.

Austin was born on October 26, 1990, in Raleigh, to Ralph Dean Olander and Karen (Magdebuger) Olander. At an early age, he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. In his ambition to study the ethics of artificial intelligence, he completed both a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at NCSU, and was currently enrolled in the Masters of Liberal Arts program. In 2017, Austin was selected as the outstanding Senior Student in the Department of Philosophy and Religion. Austin previously attended Sanderson High School in Raleigh.

Austin is preceded in death by his father, Ralph, and is survived by his mother, Karen, and his brother, Jeff. His life was an example of courage and love. He will be dearly missed.

A public service will be held outdoors in the Spring.

Memorial contributions may be made in Austin's honor to CureSMA (


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Thomas Austin Olander

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George Ngarachu

December 3, 2021

I have worked with Austin for so many years he was very pleasant to work with and I loved him like a brother. I will truly miss him.RIP you shall never be forgotten. My sincere condolences to the family.

Miriam Schaul

December 1, 2021

Dear Karen:

I was sorry to read about Austin's passing this morning. I was a respite provider for TLC and worked with your sons at your home a few times.

Both boys were devils and horseplayers on wheelchairs, ready to manipulate the care giver at every opportunity. I don't remember if Austin was the older or the younger, but both were memorable.


Miriam Schaul

Leslie Watts

November 30, 2021

Austin was one of the first students I met when I joined NCSU as an employee. I am sorry for the loss to the Pack and am keeping you all in my thoughts.

Beth Davis

November 30, 2021

Austin was a quiet person. But when he spoke, you'd listen, because it was going to be something. I knew this about my cousin but I see others saying it too.

At my Uncle Ralph's funeral, Austin said that he thought there must be nothing his dad didn't know; that he was like an encyclopedia and no matter what you asked him, he'd always know the answer. But maybe one thing he didn't know about was heaven and dying. And now he must really know everything. So our dear Austin, now you know everything too. The encyclopedia is complete.

Gary Comstock

November 26, 2021

Austin was a soft-spoken leader. With soft-spoken students, I'm in the habit of meandering to the opposite corner of the room before I call on them, to encourage them to speak up. With Austin, this was never necessary for when he spoke, the room would grow quiet quickly. All of us knew we'd learn something from him. His leadership skills were apparent both to his peers and to his professors. Upon Austin's graduation, the NC State Philosophy Department faculty selected him for their highest award, the Philosophy Prize. He will be missed.

John Carroll

November 26, 2021

My favorite memory of Austin was is determination, his smile, and his excitement about the Time-Travel Conference!

John W. Carroll