Overholser, Edward

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June20, 1869 ~ April 21, 1931

Edward Overholser, always called "Ed," died April 21st, 1931, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. At the time of his death he was President and General Manager of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, a position he had filled, with great distinction, for several years; in this position he became the recognized leader in all plans for the development and improvement of this City; he became a first rate public speaker, being witty, concise, and to the point; his talks were always appropriate to the occasion, and his repartee added charm to his remarks, but was never calculated to offend even the most sensitive. Because of these qualities, he was known, liked, and in demand as a booster and public speaker, all over this State.

Edward Overholser was born at Sullivan, Indiana, June 20th, 1869. He was a son of the late Henry Overholser, one of this City's pioneers, and best known town builders, and in 1890, after completing four years as a student at the University of Wisconsin, Ed followed his father to this City, and began a career of public service, which made him, for the last 20 years of his life an outstanding public leader. His oldest friends will all tell you that Ed worked best in the lead.

The following is an enumeration of his most important services:

Shortly after coming to this state he organized a Company of Militia. In 1897-8, when the 'Frisco R.R. was building into Oklahoma City, he was in charge of townsites at Stroud, Wellston, Luther and Jones. In an early day he built a long-distance telephone line along the 'Frisco right-of-way; also one at Shawnee; these lines were later sold to, and became a part of the Pioneer Telephone Company's system, now known as the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. He at one time served as Manager of the City Waterworks, and was first Secretary of the State Fair Association; he served one term on the School Board, and one term as Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners; during this term the present County Court House and Jail were built. He was chiefly responsible for the present water supply works, and the large lake west of the city, was named Lake Overholser in recognition of his services.

Although a life-long Republican in politics, he made the race for Mayor, and was elected over Will Gault, Jr., a Democrat, at the time Oklahoma City was strongly Democratic in politics. This election recalled to old-timers that in the early days the father of Will Gault, Jr., had defeated Henry Overholser, Ed's father, for this same office. Ed Overholser served four years as Mayor, and his administration had the confidence of all the people, regardless of politics, and is remembered as an honest, fair and efficient administration; in fact, his success as Mayor, and his general popularity, caused him to be frequently, and very seriously mentioned by friends, and in state newspapers, as an available candidate for Governor. He did not seem to care for partisan politics, and never seemed to encourage the use of his name as such candidate.

His service as Mayor, for four years, and as President of the Chamber of Commerce during the great building and expansion period of Oklahoma City, was the real foundation upon which his Statewide acquaintance and popularity rests.

Ed Overholser was an optimist, a booster, and in many ways, a Showman; he knew how to attract and mold the public mind; in fact, for a number of years he owned and operated the Overholser Opera House, which furnished high class shows and other entertainment for the people of this City. (This Theater has been rebuilt and is now the Warner.)

He was a member of the English Lutheran Church; a Mason, member of the Oklahoma Club; Men's Dinner Club, the Lion's Club, and perhaps others. At request of the City Mayor, all activities of this City were suspended at the sound of whistles, for a moment of silent tribute to Ed Overholser, as the services at his funeral began, in St. Luke's Methodist Church, where a vast display of flowers had been sent from friends in the City and throughout the state, including many from other states. Dr. Forney Hutchinson and Dr. E. C. Mobley, two of the state's outstanding Ministers, conducted the services. His funeral services were attended by a vast number of people, including the Mayor, Councilmen, and other City Officers, the Chief of Police and fifty Policemen in a body; all officials of the Chamber of Commerce; the officials and delegation from all Civic clubs, and organizations, also delegations from a number of the larger cities of the State.

When a young man, he married Miss Allie Garrison, the daughter of George Garrison, the last elected Sheriff of Oklahoma County, prior to Statehood. Two children were born to them; one died in infancy, the other, a son, Edward Jr., now 22 years of age, and his widow, survive him, residing in the family residence, 1001 Northwest 17th Street, Oklahoma City.

Ed Overholser was a good citizen, fair, honest, frank and straightforward in all his dealings and relations with other people.

His death is a real loss to this city; his place will be hard to fill.

Contributed by Marti Graham, August 2003. Information posted as courtesy to researchers. The contributor is not related to nor researching any of the above.

Source: "Necrology." Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 9, No. 2 June 1931. 18 Aug 2003 <http://digital.library.okstate.edu/chronicles/v009/v009p212.html>.


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