Joseph P. Overton

MIDLAND – It is with sadness beyond words that the management and staff of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy announce the death last night of their beloved colleague and senior vice president, Joseph P. Overton. One of the Center’s key leaders for 11-1/2 years, Overton was killed at approximately 9:32 p.m. Monday while flying his ultra-light aircraft in Tuscola County.

Overton’s contributions to the Mackinac Center’s remarkable growth and influence, and to the larger public policy debate in the state of Michigan, are “legion and long-lasting,” said Joseph G. Lehman, executive vice president. “Joe came aboard the Center when there were just two other employees and was a prime mover in the organization’s growth, helping it to become the largest of some 40 research institutes of its kind outside of Washington, D.C.”

Mackinac Center President Lawrence Reed said, “In his professional life, Joe Overton was incredibly gifted as a lawyer, an engineer, a manager, and a champion of sound policy that has made Michigan a freer and more prosperous state. In his personal life, he was the finest Christian gentleman, a model citizen and coworker whom his associates admired and emulated, a friend and adviser without peer. He was devoted to his colleagues, his church, his community, his country, and his wife of three months and a day, Helen. He leaves behind an indelible imprint on our organization and our state, and tributes will undoubtedly flow in from his many friends abroad as well.”

“Though this loss is beyond measure, it should be known that a big part of Joe Overton’s considerable legacy will be a better and stronger organization. That’s what he worked so long and hard and well to produce; it’s what he taught the rest of us to work toward; and it’s what all of us he leaves behind are more committed to now than ever,” said Reed. “Joe had many passions in his life, and among them were faith, family and freedom. He was a pillar of strength and inspiration in all those areas.”

Overton’s influence will be especially felt in education policy. He was, in Lehman’s words, “an architect of some of the most innovative reform ideas in the country, his 1997 proposal for a tuition tax credit being a signature contribution. The cause of giving parents freedom to choose the best and safest schools for their children will be ultimately achieved in part because of his tireless efforts.”

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Wedding Toast to Joseph and Helen Overton

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