Osmund R. Overby, Nov. 8, 1931 — June 1, 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014 | 7:10 p.m. CDT; updated 11:40 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 2, 2014

Dr. Osmund R. Overby, 82, of Columbia, died peacefully and in the presence of his family on June 1, 2014 after a lengthy struggle with Parkinson’s disease.

Osmund OverbyA memorial service and celebration of his life will be held at 11:00 a.m., Thursday, June 5, at Calvary Episcopal Church, 123 South Ninth Street, Columbia, Missouri.  The family will greet friends following the service at a reception at the church.  Burial will be private.

Osmund “Ozzie” Rudolf Overby, the son of Oscar and Gertrude (Boe) Overby, was born November 8, 1931 in Minneapolis.  He attended school in Northfield, Minnesota and graduated from St. Olaf College in 1953 with a degree in mathematics and philosophy.  He played in orchestras and bands as a clarinetist and saxophone player, and was active in several sports and outdoor activities, including ski jumping.

He married Barbara Spande, of Portland Oregon, in 1954 in Brooklyn, New York. He served in the United States Army during the Korean War as a military band musician.  The couple attended graduate school at the University of Washington, Seattle, where Ozzie obtained an MA in architecture.  In 1963, he received his PhD in Art History from Yale University.  His first teaching position was at the University of Toronto.  From there, he came to the University of Missouri, Columbia, where he taught in the Department of Art History and Archaeology until his retirement in 1998.  

At MU, he was a key contributor to long-range campus planning, a driver of the renovation of Pickard Hall, and director of the Museum of Art and Archaeology. He led teams of architectural students from around the nation during several summer projects for the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Historic American Buildings Survey in St. Thomas, Boston, Newport, Hanover and St. Genevieve. In 1987, Ozzie was named Distinguished Alumnus of St. Olaf College. During sabbatical years, he conducted research and taught at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Washington University, St. Louis, and at the Philipps University in Marburg, Germany, which was one leg of an extraordinary, year-long road trip through fourteen European countries the family made in a 1971 Volkswagen camper van.  

Ozzie founded and led several historic preservation organizations at community and state levels in Missouri.  He was also a nationally-recognized champion of architectural preservation.  In Ozzie’s honor, the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation, an organization that advocates for preservation of architectural and historic landmarks in Missouri, annually bestows the Overby Award, given for a published work contributing to the documentation and interpretation of Missouri’s architectural history.

Ozzie was a long-time editor of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians and wrote a number of articles and books, including “William Adair Bernoudy Architect: Bringing the Legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright to St. Louis.”  He served for several years as editor-in-chief of the Buildings of the United States series, a sixty-volume collection that documents American architecture.  His own co-authored volume in this series on the buildings of Missouri will be published posthumously.  Over the course of his career, Ozzie advised and mentored numerous doctoral students who have gone on to teach around the world. He was a popular lecturer and he and Barbara hosted many memorable backyard picnics welcoming students to the department.

A supporter and patron of musical performance in Columbia, Ozzie loved attending student, faculty and professional concerts.   Early in his time in Columbia, he co-founded a film society at the university.  He also served on the board of the Missouri Parks Association and advised former Governor Christopher Bond on the restoration of the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City.  He lent his time to civic, academic and religious organizations, including St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Columbia, where he sang in the choir for many years.  While working and in retirement, he joined his wife Barbara on archaeological excavations in Portugal and together they walked the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain and a similar pilgrimage route, St. Olaf’s Way, in Norway from Oslo to Trondheim.  

Ozzie is survived by his wife of sixty years, Barbara, an accomplished musician, textile artist, cook, and business owner.  He is also survived by his children Paul (Patricia) of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Katherine (Robert) Howland of Columbia, and Charlotte (Barbara), of Durango, Colorado and four grandchildren, Clara, Alexander, Joseph and Sarah.  He is also survived by a sister, Solveig Tschann of Mendota Heights, Minnesota and a brother Karl, of Fullerton, California.  He was preceded in death by a brother, Rolf, in 1959.  Admired for his kindness, intellect, humor, generosity, and humility, Ozzie greatly inspired these same qualities in his friends, colleagues and family.

Online condolences and tributes may be shared with the family at In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Columbia Civic Orchestra, P.O. Box 7119, Columbia, MO 65205.

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