Lewis “Lew” Overaker passed away at Concord Hospital in Laconia, NH on October 26, 2021.
Lew was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois, or as Lew affectionately called it, the “Land of Lincoln.” Though he spent more than half of his life in New England, he remained steadfastly proud of his Midwestern heritage and visited often during summers and school breaks. He was known for his Midwestern warmth and hospitality by all who knew him.
Lew was a lifelong scholar who started at a young age, earning the Harvard Book Award at his high school graduation. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in French at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois and continued with a master’s in French Literature from Indiana University in Bloomington. From there he pursued PhD studies in French Literature while teaching at Ohio Wesleyan University, in Delaware, OH. He completed his PhD at Ohio State.
In 1976 Lew came to teach French and Spanish at Holderness School, where he touched the lives and warmed the hearts of countless students in his 42-year tenure, and where he was affectionately known as “Dr. O". In addition to receiving numerous National Endowment for the Humanities summer grants, he received two year-long sabbaticals from Holderness in which he taught for a year at the University of Tennessee at Martin, and in another did research in French literature and wrote and published a scholarly dissertation on Flaubert’s A Simple Heart. Retiring from Holderness in 2008, he taught French at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH for four more years. He remained closely connected to Holderness School in retirement and was also a frequent substitute for his colleagues on the faculty there.
In addition to Lew’s academic and scholarly pursuits, he was an active and dedicated member of several clubs and societies, including the Guild of Scholars of the Episcopal Church, the Mayflower Society, the General Society of Colonial Wars, and the Union Club of Boston.
A man of deeply-held faith, Lew was devoted to the Episcopal Church. At Holderness, Lew served as a crucifer and chalice minister for the Chapel program, even during his retirement. For years he was an active member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Plymouth and Ashland (formerly Church of the Holy Spirit), and he was known to occasionally wake early on Sunday mornings and drive to the Church of the Advent in Boston for its Anglo-Catholic liturgy and choral music.
Lew is survived by his three cousins, Bouvier Beale of Mill Valley, CA; Christopher Beale of Charlottesville, VA; and Ridgely Beale of Hampton Bay, NY.
Lew lived for his faith, friends, students, and poetry - and, for one week every May, the Kentucky Derby. His warmth, kindness, humor, and charm will be greatly missed.
A memorial service and reception will be held on Saturday, November 20, 2021, at 3 p.m. at the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Holderness School. All are welcome. Reception to follow. Please RSVP and share a memory of Lew Overaker here
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lewis J. Overaker Scholarship Fund here.
Please remember to designate your gift to the Lewis J. Overaker Scholarship Fund.