Mackinac VP Overton Killed in Plane Crash

Published September 1, 2003

Joseph P. Overton, 43, senior vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, died on June 30, 2003, as a result of injuries sustained when his single-seat lightweight aircraft crashed after takeoff near Caro in Michigan’s Thumb.

Overton served as a volunteer for the Center in its early years, eventually joining the staff in 1992 and helping it become the largest of some 40 research institutes of its kind outside Washington, DC. He also founded the Michigan Legal Foundation and

“On the policy issue that meant the most to him–education–[Overton] labored tirelessly to expand liberty and opportunity for parents to send their children to the best and safest schools of their choice,” said Lawrence W. Reed, president of the Mackinac Center.

Reed spoke movingly of Overton’s strong love of liberty. “To him, it meant maximum room for each person to employ his God-given abilities so long as he harms no one else. … He loved the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence.”

Overton maintained a lifetime connection with Michigan. He was born in South Haven on January 4, 1960; graduated from Midland’s H.H. Dow High School in 1978; graduated from Michigan Technological University in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering; and graduated from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1993 with a Juris Doctor degree. Before joining the Mackinac Center, Overton worked for the Dow Chemical Company for several years, holding positions as electrical engineer, project manager, and quality specialist.

He is survived by his wife, Helen; his mother, Kathryn J. Overton of Midland; a sister, brother, and several aunts, uncles, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his father, Lawrence G. Overton.