Our beloved friend and guide Joseph P Overton passed away on Monday, June 30 in a plane crash in Midland, Michigan. Fortunately, Joe came to India in December 2001. He engaged, in his indomitable style, many students, activists, and the CCS team at our National Conference on Primary Education, New Delhi, and at the Liberty & Society Seminar, Chennai. Joe will always be in our hearts-an inspiration to persevere for freedom, peace, and prosperity for all. Sruthijiths tribute to Joe
Joe in India Mackinac Centres tribute
Joe introduced me to speed chess and I have preferred playing only that ever since. He helped me purchase a set of my own, which is my cherished possession. I played tennis with him in Midland and he had promised to teach me the serve, at which I am weakest. I still have such vivid memory of playing speed chess and tennis with him.
When I decided to return to India, Joe (and Larry Reed) invited me to spend some time at the Mackinac Centre to learn think tank management. They run the best think tank, period. I think I was their first trainee. They took me to each department of the Centre and spent a lot of their precious time in going over the smallest items of their operations. After the office time, over dinner and at the tennis court, Joe constantly encouraged me to pursue my dream. His stories still inspire me. There is no doubt that the success of CCS owes a great deal to the coaching and encouragement of Joe.
Joe came to India in December 2001 on our invitation to speak at the National Conference on Primary Education. Again, in his subtle, polite but certain style, he debated the many skeptics about the role of private sector in primary education. He always enjoyed a good argument, even a good fight. His talk Assuring Quality Education: Incentives and Mechanisms in Market-Based Systems left a lasting impression on the participants.
After the conference, Joe was planning to play tourist. When he learned that we were going to Chennai for our Liberty & Society Seminar, Joe decided, without any hesitation, to engage with students rather than monuments. Never the one to miss an opportunity to spread the message. He really has set very high standards.
The students really loved him; he was the star faculty at the seminar. Actually it was at that time that my mother passed away and I had to leave the seminar on the second day. Joe helped pulled the weight for the remaining two days. There is more to say, but it will take me a while to say it .
Dr Parth J Shah
While being a research associate with the Centre for Civil Society, New Delhi, I met
Joe at the National Conference on Primary Education. His talk there revealed the
passionate person beneath the staid exterior I had first seen.
It seems just a while ago, the four days i got to spend with Joe Overton at Chennai for the Liberty & Society Seminar in December 2001. It was not just his manner, his iron clad reasoning or devastating argument served with a charming smile that caught our fancy, but the person he was, the extend to which he went to drive home a fine point, the sensitivity and finesse with which he handled certain discussions with which some of the participants were uncomfortable.. and boy, his lecture on private and political markets.. we loved him the very first day and ever since.
What comes to my mind when i hear the manner of the trajedy is the night, after a long day of lectures, we had gone to the beach where joe played guitar and when we came back, decided to play some games in his room.
All of the players were supposed to say three facts about themselves two of which is false. Others were supposed to guess which is right. When after many rounds, joe's turn came, He said.." I own a music system, I own a TV, I own an aircraft.. which is true..?" Half of the players guessed TV, others went for Music system. Then with that raise of an eyebrow and a full smile charecteristic of him, he said: " No friends, i own an aircraft" Then on our request, he told us everything about his plane, so passionately, one could sense the excitement of a teenage flying enthusiast. I remember feeling jealous.
Joe was a star faculty at our seminar. He also set standards that i seldom find met by many speakers. We in India will definitely miss him as a comrade-in-arms. But we shall definitely try and achive what he lived for in such an illustrious manner.
Sruthijith K K